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Blu-ray Review: Happy Gilmore

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Adam Sandler’s 1996 golf comedy Happy Gilmore came during a string of similar vehicles he churned out during the mid- to late-nineties. He plays a down-on-his-luck hockey player who discovers he has an amazing knack for golf. A number of memorable guests join in, including Carl Weathers, Richard Kiel, Julie Bowen, Ben Stiller, Kevin Nealon and Bob Barker.

The Movie

Look, I’m not here to judge you. If you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie, that’s ok. You have your reasons, so there’s no need in my trying to pile shame on your decision, especially as that angle has been thoroughly covered by many a reviewer before me. But let’s at least get out in the open that his movies have a certain audience – and intoxication state – in mind. It’s a group that is ok with watching Sandler’s perpetual Man-Boy schtick slightly tweaked to different scenarios; that doesn’t mind the predictable “loser makes good” plot devices; and that just wants a little humorous escapism without having to invest too much mental energy (after all, it’s the weekend!). We’ve all been in that boat, and you could certainly do a lot worse than Happy Gilmore.

In this setup, Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, a wannabe hockey player who unfortunatley isn’t any good at ninety percent of hockey. But man can he put some heat behind his shot! Sure, every other part of his life is falling apart – he didn’t make the hockey team again, his girlfriend left him, and his grandmother’s house is being repossessed – but as wildly improbable, movie comedy luck would have it, he discovers that he can really smack the stuffing out of a golf ball. Oh, and that a golf tournament where he might be discovered is about to take place. Insert unlikely event A into standard comic device B and voila: Happy Gilmore. And don’t worry, we have our stock protagonists and antagonists lined up. Cocky opponent who is jealous of Happy’s quick success? Check. Beautiful girl who could do way better than him in real life but here is taken in by his boyish charm? Of course. Comic mentor played by Carl Weathers? You bet. Actual funny scenes delivered by Kevin Nealon and Bob Barker? Hole in one.

The film sticks close to both standard comedy conventions, as well as the general Adam Sandler character template. Happy Gilmore is not aiming to be particularly original, nuanced or really even that clever. But within its formulas, it has just enough heart and genuine laughs to keep it afloat.

Video/Audio

Happy Gilmore delivers a surprisingly strong 1080p high definition encoding. Although mid-nineties comedies aren’t known for being visual powerhouses, the picture here is quite solid with bold and balanced colors, an overall good level of detail and clarity, and only a modest amount of graininess. There are a few moments where the picture becomes soft or murky, but given the age of the film and other genre pics from that time, Universal has done a commendable job on this catalog title

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is certainly adequate, and all things considered even commendable. Granted, there is nothing in the sound of the film that lends itself to wide channel separation or impeccable clarity. But given the more flat nature of comedies in general – and especially ones without action sequence elements – there is certainly nothing to complain about here. What’s there is cleanly presented and adequately robust.

Bonus Material

The good news is that this Blu-ray release of the film contains all the bonus features of previous releases. The bad news is that they’re still nothing to get at all excited about. There is a collection of deleted scenes (SD, 18:36) that quite frankly are awful. They’re not funny and are really only there for Sandler completists. Similarly, a montage of outtakes (SD, 5:07) are a string of people messing up their lines and laughing, if that kind of thing still does it for you. And that’s it. No commentary, no behind-the-scenes feature, and no trailer. You’re welcome.

Conclusion

If you’re an Adam Sandler fan in general, or a Happy Gilmore fan specifically, this new Blu-ray release gives a solid AV upgrade to one of his better early comedies. If you’re only a casual passerby to Sandler’s work, there isn’t really anything here besides the film itself that’s of interest. This is a fairly bare-bones release for a catalog comedy, but one that’s at least been well transferred by the studio.

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About David R Perry