Caddyshack on Blu-ray disc

By Jim Bray

It wasn't particularly funny on its initial release, nor did it make me laugh when it showed up on videocassette a while later. So does age make Caddyshack, like fine wine, a more tasty prospect in this age of the high definition disc?

Alas, no. I was hoping it would because I have always seemed to be swimming upstream against public reaction to this film, which many consider a classic comedy even today. And while a new suit of clothes, as in a 1080p presentation, does gloss it up somewhat, at heart it's still the immature and unfunny mess it always has been.

It's too bad. There's plenty of talent here, from co-writer and director Harold Ramis of SCTV and several funnier movies' fame (Groundhog Day springs to mind immediately, as does Ghostbusters), to National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live alumni to Rodney Dangerfield – the latter of whose lines always cracked me up until he appeared here – and finally to Chevy Chase (who could once make people laugh by merely pulling a face), and Ted Knight, whose buffoonish Ted Baxter was one of the beloved characters on the old Mary Tyler Moore TV show.

Caddyshack is a bit of a coming of age story that revolves around a nice but rather slacker of a caddy named Danny (played by Michael O'Keefe) who wants to attend college but needs a scholarship to get there. So he starts sucking up to the elite snob Judge Smails (Knight, whose presentation is so similar to his Baxter character it's like he phoned it in) to get on his good side so he'll use his influence in his favor.

The golf club is populated by a number of characters, each of whom has a chance to wreak his own particular havoc on the story. There's millionaire playboy Ty Webb (Chase), who appears to have little motivation for anything, greensman Carl Spackler (Bill Murray in a role that today would probably get his picketed by the special needs kids lobby), whose purpose is to provide comedy relief (as if, in a comedy, such relief should be necessary),  and Dangerfield as a low class real estate developer named Al Czervik.

Smails hates Czervik, and the latter spends most of the movie lightheartedly - and like a bull in a china shop - wreaking havoc on Smails, his stuff, and the golf club in general. Murray keeps trying to find new ways to kill off the club's resident varmint, and Chase just walks through the film, showing up when the screenplay calls for it, mugging a bit, then moving on again.

It's oh, so predictable and oh, so unfunny and after 30 years it seems more like a time capsule, a look back at a time when the lunatics – or at least the kids from the 1960's – were starting to run the Hollywood asylum, poking propriety and taste in the eye and using coarseness to take the place of imagination. It's floating turd jokes in place of wit.

I wanted to like it; I thought maybe it was just me – and maybe it is – but Caddyshack is still a failure.

The Blu-ray does the movie justice. Presented in 1080p, of course, it's a decent transfer that fits the 16x9 screen completely. Colors are overly gaudy – and this is a very green-colored movie. There's plenty of grain, and not a lot of that great depth that can make Blu-rays so great, but overall it looks okay, with a reasonably sharp and detailed image. 

Audio is presented in dts HD Master Audio 5.1, but it's mostly front-centric. The music sounds very good, though, and the dialogue is always discernable, much to my chagrin.  

Extras include a couple of pretty good featurettes. Caddyshack: The Inside Story gives you a reasonably in depth look at how the movie was developed and shot, including some interesting background on how the original story (which was more about Danny) was supposed to unfold. Most of the cast and crew are on hand. Caddyshack: The 19th Hole is about a half hour worth of deleted scenes and stuff.

You also get the original theatrical trailer.

Caddyshack, from Warner Home Entertainment
99 min. 1080p widescreen (1.78:1), dts HD Master Audio
Starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O'keefe and Bill Murray
Produced by Douglas Kenney
Written by Brian Doyle-Murray & Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney, directed by Harold Ramis

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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