Here’s an old golf joke: What’s the best movie about golfing ever made? “Caddyshack.” And the worst? “Caddyshack II.”
The eight-years-too-late “Caddyshack II” was an instant bomb in 1988 and time has not been kind. In fact, whereas camp classics like “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” “Mannequin Too: On The Move” and “Teen Wolf Too” have nostalgia-fueled apologists, the return of Chevy Chase and an ill-behaved gopher (and no one else from the original cast) has been stuck in a cinematic sand trap purgatory since the day it opened.
The plot is a lazy remake of the original, but here goes: Jackie Mason replaces Rodney Dangerfield, playing Jack Hartounian, an outspoken, wealthy and “lovable” clod who is unwelcome at the posh Bushwood Country Club.
Hartounian is immediately met with opposition by the club’s head, played by Robert Stack, embodying basically the exact same role the late, great Ted Knight played in the original classic.
Is “classic” too big a word for the 1980 “Caddyshack”? Not really. If you consider how closely MVP Bill Murray’s improvised “Dali Llama” speech has been studied, or how the beer-lovin’ gopher (more on him later) and Kenny Loggins’ roaring “I’m Allright” are still a part of the cultural lexicon, then no.
By the way, TV Guide once referred to “Caddyshack” as “The Citizen Kane of Slob Comedies.” Is higher praise necessary?
Back to the plot:
New names but mostly the same characters, as Dan Aykroyd steps in for Murray (fumbling his efforts to be “wacky”). At least Chase is back for a while as Ty Webb (his rapport with Murray, Knight and Dangerfield is sorely missed).
FAST FACT: The original “Caddyshack” earned $39.8 million in 1980. The sequel? A depressing $11.7 million.
Original director Harold Ramis is gone, though he had a hand at writing this and admitted in print a few years back he regretted it.
Director Allan Arkush’s zany, cartoonish approach to comedy greatly served his wonderful “Rock and Roll High School” but doesn’t work here. If there’s a template being mimicked, it’s not the original movie but “Airplane!,” as many scenes try and fumble utilizing sight gags in the background, while the foreground offers dozens of clumsy pratfalls.
The opening scene immediately establishes that things are off: we open on the greens of Bushwood being upended by the pesky gopher, making massive “Tremors”-like dirt tracks as the “Jaws” theme plays.
It’s too elaborate for a gag centering on what used to be a crappy hand puppet (now, it’s an animatronics upgrade… that still looks like a crappy hand puppet). From the start, there’s too much money on the screen and the scrappy charm of the original seems a distant after thought.
After a lame intro of our new caddy (Jonathan Silverman) and the jerks he works for (an admittedly effective Brian McNamera and a pre-Wilson Phillips Chynna Phillips, both well cast), we get a weak title credit montage, set to Kenny Loggins’ “Nobody’s Fool.” Among the lyrics in the new Loggins song are “…back to the Shack, uh-huh yeah, nothin’ suits me better than that,” indicating that Loggins wrote the song before he sat through the movie.
Hartounian’s introductory scene has him bulldozing down a historical sight, all because the rich, elderly representatives of Bushwood ask him not to. Perhaps Dangerfield could have humanized this guy, but Mason’s abrasive touch makes him such a cretin from the start; the movie doesn’t realize its protagonist is actually the villain.
The movie this wanted to be was “The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad,” the hit Zucker-Abrams-Zucker-directed, PG-13-rated cop movie parody, as raunchy as it is brilliant.
Did you know this scene from Caddyshack was completely improvised? pic.twitter.com/HBO41zgMvv
— AlltimeMovies (@AlltimeMoviesYT) April 26, 2019
“Caddyshack II” came out the same year (and was released from the same studio) as “Hot to Trot” and “Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach,” which are all similar in this way: they contain a cheerful disposition, are full of silly, Keystone Cops-era slapstick, sexist gags and stereotypes and are bad from start to finish.
Mason’s Tony-award winning, one-man 1986 Broadway show, “The World According to Me,” is a treasure. His newfound burst of fame, unfortunately, led him to starring in this and the misguided sitcom, “Chicken Soup” (pairing him with, all of people, Lynn Redgrave).
Mason’s style of comedy is Borsht belt, Vaudeville-ready, akin to the Buddy Young character Billy Crystal played in “Mr. Saturday Night.” As the lead of this movie, he tosses out one-liners and hams it up but can’t hold the screen like Dangerfield.
Stack is too nice to be playing the villainous head of the Bushwood snobs. Then there’s Randy Quaid, plays Hartounian’s psychotic lawyer, prone to outbursts and tantrums; while Quaid’s insane comic energy helps, he’s too much for this film.
I love Aykroyd but he’s been in an alarming number of stinkers over his long career. Here, in a makeover of the Murray character, he’s committed (complete with a shrill castrato voice) but awful.
Chase’s early scenes are strong, as his unflappable attitude makes it seem he’s all too happy to steal this movie. By the third act, his cool detachment seems to wither away, as he finally can’t be bothered to show enthusiasm. Fittingly, his final moments have him ditching the action or looking desperately off camera.
Here’s one of those PG-rated ’80s comedies that pushes against the constraints of the rating. Like “Beetlejuice” and “Big” the same year (both rated PG), it has a single use of the “F-word” though goes further than both (to a point) in being sleazy and gross.
This should have been rated R but, as is, manages to be one of the many movies of its era that kids can watch, even as it offers the kind of overtly creepy behavior and innuendos that make it inappropriate.
Of all things, “Caddyshack II” feels like a perverse children’s film, the kind of too-dumb-for-adults-but-silly-enough-for-kids time killer that could air on The Disney Channel. I missed the button-pushing vomiting in the Rolls Royce and defecating in the swimming pool shenanigans that made “Caddyshack” such a wickedly subversive and juvenile work for older teens.
Here’s an obvious piece of criticism -- the first film gave us lots of scenes with the young protagonist inside the caddyshack, working alongside his boss, played by the great Brian Doyle-Murray (who also co-wrote the original).
“Caddyshack II” has no scenes set in the caddyshack whatsoever, losing the contrast between the Bushwood snobs and those who serve them. Losing the angle of the drugged-out country club workers vs. the rich squares they serve makes all of this pointless.
Speaking of stoned, no one in “Caddyshack II” does any drugs but the characters still act zonked. “National Lampoon”-era irreverence isn’t properly administered here, as attempts at hipness don’t even reach “Bill and Ted” levels.
Is “Caddyshack II” the worst sequel ever made? As of this writing, it sits at #92 of the Bottom Ranked of IMDB infamy, sports a 4 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and once inspired Chicago Tribune David Kehr critic to note (not inaccurately) that the film is “numbingly stupid.”
Statistics aside, let’s consider some film history -- at least “The Sting II” was written and directed by the creator of the original and allowed for continuity.
Ditto “Speed II: Cruise Control.” If “Arthur 2: On the Rocks” and “Cocoon: The Return” were ill-considered duds (and both from ’88- what is with that year?!). At least they seemed to exist in the same universe as their predecessors.
Do “The Whole Ten Yards,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” or “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” have a worse scene than the one here where Mason and a very-game Dyan Cannon perform a “funny dance” and sexually moan on the dance floor?
You know what? “Weekend At Bernies II,” all is forgiven. “Caddyshack II” is the worst sequel ever made.
Oh wait, I forgot the scene where Mason gets thrown off a horse and the horse stands there and laughs at him.
No, never mind, ‘”Shack II” is the pits.