I have very conflicted feelings about Caddyshack II. On one hand, I think it is a crime against humanity. An atrocity. Once of the best comedies ever was sold out by some of the same people who created it—Harold Ramis and Chevy Chase chief among them, specifically co-writer Ramis. The original is everything that the sequel is not: funny, stylish, cool, sublime, uniformly well-acted, a nice mix of subtle and slapstick, funny, a slice of early ‘80s class warfare, a tale of young vs. old, funny, a great movie for people who love golf and hate golf, funny…I go could on for forever.
And yet, Caddyshack II does have a certain appeal. Anyone who is obsessed with Caddyshack is probably disgusted by it, but to the rest of us, it’s just another crappy sequel. Of course it’s a mess, but you’ve seen worse. You will not automatically start vomiting once the credits roll. Your skin will not flay off when you see the gopher for the first time.
Also, for those of you who think that the legacy of an original is tarnished by the sequel, you are probably taking that movie (and yourself) way too seriously. Caddyshack was a great movie, but it was just a movie. A silly movie, with slapsticky crap like hitting a guy in the nuts with a golf club and Bill Murray taking a bite out of a chocolate bar which everyone assumed was a piece of poo.
Finally, Caddyshack II meets my criteria for recommending a movie to others—there are enough Entertaining Scenes to take away from it to consider it worthwhile. They are there, they do exist, and not just in an ironic manner. So yes, I would recommend renting this sequel.
Enough defending this piece of garbage. From here on in, I’m going to bitch.
Remember how great Rodney Dangerfield was in the original? Well, obviously the filmmakers did too, because they built the sequel around his character and not the caddy’s. (Or Chevy Chase’s.) Only problem is that Dangerfield did not do this movie—something I’ll bet he congratulated himself on every day until he passed. Jackie Mason took over for him.
The plot of Caddyshack II is Mason fighting with the country club, his daughter and himself. First he’s fighting to get a membership to the club, and then he fights over its ownership. He only wants in because his daughter is rubbing up against the rich crowd and wants Daddy to fit in. The board, represented by Robert Stack, doesn’t like Mason because he is too loud, too uncultured, and way too Jewish. Still, Mason owns land next to the golf course, and his construction company is preparing to put up some shabby low-income housing on the site. The board thinks that if they accept Mason’s membership, they can get him to stop building.
That’s a dumb premise, but whatever—this is comedy. But instead of milking the premise, it’s abandoned almost immediately. There is only around fifteen minutes of total screen time during which Mason might potentially join the club and thus spring the trap. Mason pisses off the rich snobs way too quickly and they declare all-out war on him. In retaliation, he buys Bushwood from Chevy Chase, reprising his role as the seriously weird Ty Webb. Mason turns it into a loud, garish amusement park that everyone can enjoy, not just the privileged few. The golf course is made into a giant mini-golf extravaganza.
Stack is so angry about his private club being turned into an amusement park that he confronts Mason, and just like in the original, a tag-team golf match is set up to settle the score. This time it’s Mason and the caddy (Jonathon Silverman) vs. Stack and his snooty son. Winner gets the country club. Stack isn’t taking any chances though, and in an act of crappy overkill, he hires the absolute worst assassin in the history of cinema, Dan Ackroyd.
Oh yeah, and the gopher is back. And this time he can kind of talk, and do other stuff gophers aren’t supposed to be able to do.
First off, Jackie Mason is no Rodney Dangerfield, and maybe it’s unfair of him to assume he ever could be. Rodney played a boorish fish out of water with such charisma that you loved every second he was on screen. Mason doesn’t. He is also not really boorish either—just a regular, self-made guy who wants what’s best for his daughter. Nearly every drop of fun from Rodney’s part is missing in Mason.
That all goes double for Bill Murray’s replacement, Dan Ackroyd. Triple, quadruple—only in Ackroyd’s case, you have to assume that he at least had the ability to get near what Murray did in the first film. It doesn’t happen, and the only good thing about this role is that he doesn’t appear until the last third of the film. Chevy Chase does ok, but he’s on screen very briefly, as if to apologize for even being in this movie. Silverman is kind of just there as the caddy, as is Jessica Lundy as Mason’s daughter, who is torn between her embarrassing father and new snobby friends. They make almost no impact. Lastly, while I thought Stack was decent as the bad guy, he still couldn’t hold a candle to Ted Knight’s performance (who had passed away before this, in 1986.) Knight was perfect as the club’s elitist, and he never had to act a scene as stupid as Stack hiring a hitman from a lunch truck.
Ok, this isn’t the first sequel not to get everyone back, and suffer for it. I would argue that the real problem is the jokes. They suck. And the premises. They suck too. Everything about them makes you realize just how good the original was at balancing subtle humor and situations with the most ridiculous stuff imaginable. You realize it all the more because the sequel recycles a lot of things that worked in the original. Bill Murray was amazing as the wacked-out groundskeeper who eventually resorts to explosives to catch the gopher. Ackroyd tries a lot of the same stuff, and it’s just awful. Randy Quaid, Mason’s lawyer, received some of the same kinds of lines that Dangerfield did, only now they are grating. Instead of laughing, you want to punch him in the mouth the same way the bad guys do. Also, instead of the super-hot girl from the original seducing both Chase and the caddy, you get Mason’s daughter in the most unentertaining love triangle imaginable.
Every time the filmmakers tried to veer away and try new things, it falls on its face. On paper, it may be a good idea for Mason to buy the club and stick it to the rich by opening it up as an amusement park, turning the actual course into a mini-golf wonderland. But when you actually see it, it is just way too over the top. A lot of what was wonderful about the original was how stuffy and antiquated the country club was, and sticking a Ferris wheel in the middle of it just kills it. That’s ok if there’s enough payoff for the gag, but there isn’t. There never is in this movie.
- The credits—Caddyshack II was co-written by Harold Ramis? Can that be right? Ramis is an awesome actor, writer and director, and one of the greatest achievements was the original Caddyshack. How is he partly responsible for this movie? Did they blackmail him? Was he drugged?
- Chevy Chase rehashes some of Ty Webb’s weirdness at the country club. He does the old “nanananananana” magic on the pool table, slaps a cold cut onto a guy’s shoulder and sits in an old guy’s lap.
- Jackie Mason almost dies riding horses at the club. Of course he doesn’t, but he does sneak in a decent fart joke.
- A slave auction is held at the club, setting up the rich old people working at the construction site. Not hilarious, but not bad.
- Mason at Chase’s house. Mason is trying to buy controlling interest in Bushwood from Chase, who didn’t even know he owned it. In probably the funniest scene of the movie, Chase plays golf inside his fancy house, hitting the ball from room to fancy room.
- The stuffy country club is turned into an amusement park, complete with water slides, loud music and the aforementioned changes to the golf course. The best one is a hole I’d like to play myself—a hockey rink, and the hole is the goal.
- Jonathon Silverman is converted from caddy to lifeguard, and at Mason’s urging, turns off the flow of water to the waterslide. The uppity rich kid, who is Robert Stack’s son and the guy Mason’s daughter is seeing, slides down without water. A nice slapstick moment.
- Stack hires Dan Ackroyd. Maybe not as much entertaining as hateful.
- Chase skillfully offends a group of three women, one at a time. Kind of wasted on this movie, but a decent laugh.
- The big match, during which Ackroyd tries to chase the gopher. It shows how unsubtle this movie is in comparison to the original: Mason starts off playing like garbage and somehow pulls it together by the end. In the original, the good guys only have a chance to win because Rodney Dangerfield figures out that he should cheat and get the caddy to replace him. That actually makes sense.
What else can I say about Caddyshack II? There is a lot of bad and not a lot of good. But if you haven’t seen it, I think you should try it at least once. Then go back to the original and appreciate it all the more.
Thanks for reading!