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Happy Gilmore: Special Edition

Comedian Adam Sandler follows up his critically maligned 1994 classic Billy Madison with this similarly absurd 1996 comedy set in the world of professional golf. Sandler, who also co-wrote the movie with his Billy Madison partner Tim Herlihy, stars as Happy Gilmore, a frustrated hockey reject with a very short temper. After his annual failure to make the team at yet another hockey try-out, his impatient girlfriend cruelly dumps him, and Gilmore's losing streak is compounded when his beloved grandmother (Frances Bay) is kicked out of her house for owing $250,000 in back taxes. Desperate for money, Gilmore fortuitously parlays his fierce slapshot into a 400+ yard golf drive and, despite a miserable short game, barely ekes his way onto the pro golf tour. Gilmore's abrasive style and popular antics catch the eye of a comely tour publicist (Julie Bowen) but do not endear him to mean tournament favorite Shooter McGavin (Chris MacDonald), who does his best to sabotage Gilmore's rising star. Like Billy Madison before it, Happy Gilmore is clumsily built on a stale narrative formula that serves as little more than a rickety skeleton for several layers of silliness, buffoonish Sandler outbursts, and absurd tangents, most of which are refreshingly original and joyfully executed. While Gilmore is more technically sound than its predecessor, it's also slightly less generously populated with gags. Still Happy Gilmore is brimming with zany creativity and ambitious (if not always successful) bits, and Sandler's boyish charm is turned on bright enough throughout to carry the few moments wanting for laughs. MacDonald is an effective villain, and Bowen is a delightful romantic lead, but the best supporting performances come from Carl Weathers as the one-handed golf pro who takes Gilmore under his wing and Ben Stiller as the slave-driving orderly at Gilmore's grandmother's rest home. Kevin Nealon, Joe Flaherty, Richard "Jaws" Kiel, Lee Trevino, and Verne Lundquist also make appearances. And, of course, there's Sandler's famous fistfight with game show host Bob Barker, which will likely overshadow the movie's much richer comic material for decades to come. Universal re-releases Happy Gilmore in a Special Edition, available in a two-pack with a special edition re-release of Billy Madison. The feature is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), as opposed to the open-matte transfer of the original disc, with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include 20 minutes of so-so deleted scenes and a gag reel. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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