Happy Gilmore

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"He doesn't play golf -- he destroys it."

While Caddyshack is widely regarded as the greatest golf movie ever made, this is undoubtedly the second-greatest.

Happy Gilmore is the story of -- well, Happy Gilmore, a die-hard hockey fan who badly wants to make it in the pro leagues. Unfortunately for him, he gets cut at every tryout due to a considerable lack in skill -- a powerful slapshot notwithstanding. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers his grandmother owes over $250,000 in back taxes and is about to lose her home. While her stuff is being repossessed, the two workers challenge Happy to hit golf balls. He does...and much to the workers' (and his own) surprise, discovers he has a 400yd+ drive. After a remark about how he can make lots of money doing that, he decides to give golfing a shot.

Of course, if you talk about this with any casual Adam Sandler fan, they're gonna bring up the fact that he got punched out by Bob Barker.

Still, this is a movie brimming with hilarity from front to back, and regarded as one of Adam Sandler's defining roles.

Tropes used in Happy Gilmore include:
  • Aborted Arc: The buildup about the orderly in the nursing home is all for naught, as he isn't seen ever again after the grandma leaves the home. He doesn't even appear in the scene where she leaves.
    • That's only in the theatrical and DVD releases. In the TV airings, the orderly gets his comeuppance by being thrown out a window and beaten with purses by old ladies. This was cut in other versions.
      • The scene of the orderly getting his comeuppance is also included on the Special Edition DVD.
  • Accidental Athlete: Played with. Happy is trying to be an athlete, just at hockey instead of golf.
  • Actor Allusion: Multiple layers of it. First, Happy asks Chubbs why a guy his size isn't playing a "real sport" like football or something. (Carl Weathers, who played Chubbs, used to be a pro football player). Chubbs answers the question by claiming that his mother wouldn't let him play anything dangerous. Happy comments that maybe that's a good idea. (Weathers also played Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, who died in the ring during the fourth film). Lastly, Chubbs is missing a hand, and in Predator Weathers' character had an arm cut off just before being killed.
    • The character of Mr. Larson is referred to as 'Frankenstein' at one point. Richard Kiel who plays him was in a Monkees episode as a 'Frankenstein' type creature.
  • Alliterative Name: Virginia Venit, the second of Adam's "V-name" girlfriends.
  • Badass Boast: On Mr. Larson's shirt: "Guns don't kill people, I kill people."
  • Badass Grandpa: Happy learns the hard way that Bob Barker is one of these.
  • Berserk Button: Happy has many.
  • Big No:
    • Happy, after Shooter crashes his dream sequence.
    • And Shooter himself, after he loses the tournament. And while getting the absolute stuffing beaten out of him by angry Happy fans after he stole the gold jacket at the near end.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Shooter learns that the "play it where it lies" applies for everyone.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with the opening guitar strains of "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Butt Monkey: The towheaded caddy at the invitational is a hapless punching bag for Happy.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: Not the tribesman type, but Shooter gets this after losing to Happy then, being the sore loser he is, trying to steal his Golden Jacket...right in front of Happy's fans (who happen to include a particularly enraged Richard Kiel). In this case, he doesn't run fast enough.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: But because it only happens in replays of tournaments, they're all bleeped out.
  • Cool Old Lady: For someone presumably old enough to remember the Great Depression, Grandma Gilmore is surprisingly keen on who Gene Simmons and Brooke Shields are.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Professional golf events don't take place over the course of one day as Happy's early tournaments do, nor is it common for a player pairing to endure for all four days as the final tournament's pairing does. It isn't likely that Happy and Shooter would've been paired for all four days of a tournament. However, these aren't PGA tournaments.

Shooter: Damn you people, this is golf!

  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In Happy Gilmore's "Happy Place", Virginia is usually wearing white underwear. But when Shooter invades the dream sequence, her underwear is black.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Semi-averted; they do mention that one can take a drop with a two-stroke penalty, but neither Shooter nor Happy does (Shooter would be hitting a ball off a patron's shoe, and Happy would be putting over a fallen broadcaster's tower that winds up amazingly like a mini-golf hole).
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Happy threatens Shooter with it, but Virginia stops Happy before he can.

Happy: Yeah, I was just looking for the other half of this bottle, and-- oh, here's some! There's some... over there, too.

Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.
Happy: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
Shooter (panicked): ...No!

  • It Got Worse: Happy watches his grandmother's house get auctioned off. The winner? Shooter McGavin.
  • Jerk Jock: Shooter McGavin.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Happy's a pretty nice guy when he's not trying to stab someone with a hockey skate or throwing a guy out of a second-story window.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Ben Stiller's character in the theatrical version. In TV versions, there is an added scene where Happy reveals he knows what the orderly did, and throwing him out of a window as revenge.
    • Also Joe Flaherty's character Donald, the fan hired by Shooter to annoy Happy ("Jackass!"). Along with being a Jerkass, he also runs into Happy with his car. He's last seen fleeing the golf course with security in pursuit, but we never find out his fate.
    • Happy himself. I mean, he does commit a few assaults during the course of the movie...
      • Although some might say getting beaten up by Bob Barker ends up being his Karma.
        • Heck, for that matter, Bob Barker. Happy almost gets kicked off the tournament for fighting with him, we never hear about anything happening to Bob.
  • Kick the Dog: Shooter when he tries to buy Happy's grandmother's house and suggests that she become his maid.
  • Let's Get Dangerous / Took a Level in Badass: "Happy learned how to putt...uh-oh!"
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Chubbs, who dies from a combination of fright and a long fall.
  • Metaphorgotten:

Happy (to his golf ball, after barely missing a putt): You son of a bitch ball -- why don't you just go home?! That's your home! Are you too good for your home?! Answer me!

  • Moral Dissonance: Bob Barker has absolutely No Sympathy for Happy, even though it should be clear as day to him that Donald is responsible for Happy's screwing up.
  • Morality Chain: Happy's grandmother is his defining moral point — her being in trouble is what sparks the whole plot off, and Happy rejects anything that will cause her harm in some way.
  • Morality Pet: Happy is surprisingly nice to the homeless guy he picks up to be his caddy. After he wins the tournament, he makes the guy his butler.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Happens offscreen to Shooter.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: This is how Happy feels when he eventually wins enough money to pay off the money his grandma owes the IRS.
  • The Obi-Wan: Chubbs. The reason why he's The Mentor and not The Hero is better justified than in many stories. In golf, missing a hand is a large handicap.
  • Oh Crap: Shooter's reaction to Mr. Larson's threat after he has to play it where it lies...off Mr. Larson's foot.

Mr. Larson: That's two thus far, Shooter.
Shooter McGavin: Oh, you can count. Good for you.
Mr. Larson: And you can count...on me, waiting for you in the parking lot!
(crowd "oooo"s in surprise while Shooter runs away, followed by someone in the crowd mockingly calling "Run Shooter!")

    • Arguably an even better example between the two:

Mr. Larson: Trying to reach the green from here, Shooter?
Shooter McGavin: That's not possible, sir.
Mr. Larson: I beg to differ; Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat, no more than an hour ago.
Shooter McGavin: Well, MORON...(turns around) good for Happy (sees Larson) Gilm-OHMYGOD!

    • The look on Shooter's face when Mr. Larson bends his 9-iron is also priceless.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Happy is hit with a car. The only loss he suffers is his ability to hit the long drive; he quickly shrugs off his injuries and is able to win the tournament.

Doctor: Well, you're a little banged up but no serious injuries. Just keep off your feet for a few days.
Happy: To Hell with that, I gotta finish up.
Doctor: Fine! Do whatever you like. What would I know, I'm just a Doctor.

  • Place Worse Than Death: The retirement home where Happy leaves his grandmother.
  • Product Placement: Happy gets an endorsement deal with Subway long before Jared made the company famous.
  • Rule of Funny: Why is Happy never in deep trouble or arrested for his multiple assaults? Because it's funny!
  • Running Gag: Lee Trevino looking at Happy forlornly and shaking his head.
    • A twist later on though.

Shooter: You, beat me, at golf? Yeah right, and Grizzly Adams had a beard.
Trevino: (interjecting) Grizzly Adams did have a beard.

  • Sir Swearsalot: The TV censors can barely keep up with Happy.
  • Smug Snake: Shooter McGavin.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Happy.
  • Take a Third Option: After a tower crashes down on the putting green, blocking Happy's path to the hole, Shooter fully expects Happy to just forfeit the tournament. Virginia suggests that he stroke around the crashed tower and get a two-putt to send the contest into overtime. Instead, Happy decides to use the struts of the tower as conduits to the hole in an attempt to win the game right there.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: First by Happy to Bob Barker ("The price is wrong, bitch!") then by Bob Barker to Happy ("I think you've had enough...(punts a downed Happy) Now you've had enough...bitch!")
  • This Loser Is You: Virginia argues that Happy is a ratings bonanza for the tour because professional golf needs a "working-class hero" whom ordinary people can look up to.
  • Training from Hell: Happy goes through this twice — first, when he stands in a batting cage and gets pelted with baseballs to toughen himself up, and when he has to learn how to putt at a very gaudy mini-golf course.
    • That said, the batting cage training was enjoyable for him so YMMV on the 'from Hell' part.
  • Troll: "You WILL NOT make this putt, jackass!"
  • Unstoppable Rage: You don't want to make Happy mad at you. Subverted a bit as his rage causes him to lose focus and make his golfing game sloppy. Shooter uses this against him in the duo tournament with Barker which of course causes their fight. Chubbs helps him to try to overcome this and then Happy himself later manages to do it on his own in the final game.
  • Who Needs Overtime: Happy elects to take a rather difficult putt to win the tour championship instead of taking a safe two-putt opportunity to force a playoff.