Happy Gilmore
Category Comedy , Sport
Year: 1996
Time: 92 minutes
Production: Universal Pictures
Director: Dennis Dugan
Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Carl Weathers, Julie Bowen
MPAA PG-13 - UK12A
Our Rating 6/10
Watchability 7/10
Contributed by JB
Tag-line He doesn’t play golf… he destroys it

Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is an ice hockey player who hopes to make it to the big leagues. The only problem is that he cannot skate, making him an untenable prospect despite his thunderous slap shot. Shortly after failing to make the grade, Gilmore discovers that his beloved grandma’s house is being foreclosed as he pops round to see removal men clearing the house. Happy, who wants to catch a hockey game, implores the removal men to get back to work. They were attempting to play golf in the front garden. In order to make the removal men work quicker, Gilmore takes them up on a bet on who can drive the golf ball the furthest. Happy, who has never swung a club before, ends up smashing the ball 400 yards, a distance which is not far off the world record. He repeats this a further two times, hitting two residents at the end of the street.

He soon takes up residence at the driving range where he drives balls for $10. It is here where he meets Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), who was impressed by his ridiculous drive and offers to coach him in a local tournament that sees the winner join the Pro Golf Tour. Gilmore ends up winning the tour, in which he hits a hole in one on a par four. Going against Chubbs’ advice, Happy joins the tour where he hopes to raise $270,000 in three months to save his Grandma’s house. On the tour, Happy’s bad boy, beer glugging antics, combined with ridiculous drive, revolutionises golf. This attracts thousands of new fans to tournament, something which draws the ire of the established golf number one, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald).Gilmore is practically a more likeable version of Pat Perez.

With Gilmore receiving most of the attention - something that McGavin had grown accustomed to - and also improving his results with every tournament, McGavin gets his deranged fan, Donald, to put Gilmore off at the upcoming Pro-Am tournament. Donald manages to wind Happy up so much that he ends up fighting his partner, Bob Barker from The Price Is Right. The ensuing consequence of the fight is that Gilmore is suspended from the tour for a month and fined $25,000, diminishing his chances of saving his Grandma’s home in the process.


However, whilst consoling himself with a big, meaty Subway, his lover, Virginia (Julie Bowen) notices how perfect Gilmore would be fronting the sandwich shop after he gives a passionate description of his foot long. Virginia manages to secure sponsorship from Subway, which sees Happy have enough money to bid for his Grandma’s house. Sadly when he does he gets outbid by that dastardly McGavin. Despite being outbid, Gilmore manages to goad McGavin in to betting the house against the winner of the upcoming Tour Championship, a fictional version of the Augusta Masters. If Gilmore wins, his grandma gets her house back and if he doesn’t he will quit the tour. The bet is heavily tipped in McGavin’s favour. He is the best player on the tour and would be the golf betting favourite in the fictional world. Gilmore was an outsider at best.

So, how does it end?

Despite Virginia’s confidence, Happy seeks out the help of former coach Chubbs, apologising to his former mentor for his past misdemeanours, as he strives to become good enough to beat McGavin. Under Chubbs’ tutelage, the two head to a miniature golf course so Happy can improve his putting, something he manages with much aplomb. Pleased with his protégé’s advancement, Chubbs gives Happy a present in the form of a hockey stick-style putter. Happy also has a present, the head of the alligator that bit off Chubbs’ hand many years ago. Unfortunately the shock of seeing the beast causes Chubs to fall out of a window and to his untimely death.

Entering the tournament, Happy is determined to win it for his mentor. This is something that Shooter also says that he is doing, mainly to irritate Happy. The first two rounds of the tournament see Happy match Shooter at nearly every hole, much to the amazement and dismay of McGavin. As a result, Shooter calls his crazed number one fan to derail Gilmore’s momentum once again. The following day, Donald runs Happy over in his Volkswagen Beetle before driving into the television tower on the 18th hole. Although injured, Happy refuses to quit the tournament, but he quickly finds out that his long drive, his biggest asset, has deserted him, resulting in him dropping several shots ahead of the final few holes.

Thankfully, Happy applies a lesson he learnt from Chubbs, managing to find his happy place, whilst an important morale boost from his Grandma helps him regain his focus. From here he goes on the warpath, storming back up the leaderboard, much to the chagrin of Shooter, who as a result loses his own focus and ends up dropping shots. By the 18th hole the two are tied up. Shooter then goes on to hole out for par. Unfortunately as Happy lines up his putt for birdie, the previously damaged television tower collapses under the weight of numerous fans, falling onto the green and blocking Gilmore’s path to hole. Despite calls from Virginia to suspend play until the mess is cleared up, Shooter argues, stating that he had to hit a ball off a fan’s foot earlier in the tournament. Virginia then implores Happy to hit it around the tower and putt in for par, which would take the game to sudden death. Gilmore thinks otherwise, using his training at the miniature golf course from earlier on, he hits one seemingly crazy slap shot against the windscreen of the stationary VW, the ball then rebounds onto the television tower where it rolls down the piping and on to the green and into the hole, winning Happy both the Tour Championship and his Grandma’s house.


Shooter, who has not been noted as a decent loser, hysterically robs Happy’s gold jacket but gets quickly hunted down by a Happy-friendly mob. The movie finally ends back at Grandma’s house where Happy is being congratulated by Chubbs, Abraham Lincoln, and that alligator!

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