Caddyshack II (1988) Allan Arkush
Production Budget: $20 million
US Gross: $11 million
Before I start, I will admit I only found the US box office receipts. It is possible the Worldwide gross made a profit but I seriously doubt it. With that out of the way, on with the review.
So tell me when this movie doesn’t seem like a good idea. Is it the fact that the movie is coming out eight years after the original? Is it the fact Harold Ramis is not directing and hands it over to Allan Arkush (who really has done nothing in his career)? Is it the fact Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, or even Ted Knight have not come back for the sequel? If it still seems like a good idea, you may have seen Caddyshack II. Or, you know, if you are a movie reviewer on the Internet.
So instead of Rodney Dangerfield coming back (who left over a dispute of the script), our main character is Jack Hartounian (Jackie Mason). Jack is a down to earth entrepreneur who builds housing for low income families. Jack joins the Bushwood country club so his daughter Kate (Jessica Lundy) can have a better chance getting into a prestigious college (or something, it’s not super clear). The stuffy upper class are taken aback by Jack’s crude lower class shenanigans which causes a feud between him and the head upper class twit played by Robert Stack.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with a sequel to Caddyshack but everything in the making of this movie feels like we are trading down. Harold Ramis doesn’t feel like directing so we get a hack TV director, Rodney Dangerfield doesn’t want to come back so we get Jackie Mason, Bill Murray doesn’t want to come back so we get Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase doesn’t really want to star in it so he will be credited as “Special Appearance by…”, we couldn’t really get anyone with talent so we pulled Randy Quaid out of the unemployment line, the main character of Danny Noonan is replaced by a piece of cardboard, and Ted Knight is replaced by Robert Stack. Now I’m not dismissing all these new actors by saying they are shit. For example I think Dan Ackroyd can be hilarious at times and Robert Stack is the man. But it says something right off the bat when we gut everything that made the original special and go for the comedy hand-me-downs.
There is no nice way about saying this, I hated Jackie Mason in this movie. He doesn’t even have a quarter of the charisma of Dangerfield and all of his terrible jokes die a horrible wheezing death on the screen. Even if we did get Dangerfield back for the sequel this wouldn’t be good. One of the nice things about the original was the fact there were many different characters spreading the comedy out. You had Dangerfield, of course, doing his schtick but you also had Chevy Chase with unique style of humor, you had Murray’s classic role of Carl Spackler, and you also had charming protagonist of Danny Noonan. Now, Noonan wasn’t in the same league as the other acts in the movie, but he was a charming everyman the drove the plot along nicely. He was the grounding influence and (compared to everyone else) the straight man to everyone else’s screwball antics. Can you imagine an entire movie where Al Czervik as the main character? As much as I like Dangerfield, he is nice in small doses.
But in this movie we abandon the larger cast for making Jackie Mason the main protagonist. This obviously hurts the movie because, as previously alluded to, Jackie Mason sucks donkey balls. The movie wants to have it both ways where he is both an over the top money flasher, but a down to earth everyman who just wants to help the poor people. It also doesn’t help that he really doesn’t have a plot in this movie. In the original Caddyshack, Noonan was trying to work his way out of his lower class status by trying to butter up the dickish judge he caddies for. In this movie there really is no reason for any of the conflict. In fact, an hour an ten minutes into this movie it seems like the writers realize there should be golfing in this movie called “Caddyshack” and the third act drops with an audible thud. Seriously, this climax with a golf tournament is one of the laziest, poorly written blow-offs to ever get shoe horned into a movie like this. If they seriously turned to the audience and said “We got nothing better to wrap this movie up with, so let’s play some golf” I would at least had more respect for them instead of what they ended up with.
The rest of the cast is no good either. Dan Ackroyd tries to be like Murray’s character but it comes off as extremely annoying rather than enduring. I mentioned before that Robert Stack is the man, but here he just plain sucks. He has nothing to work with and you appreciate what Ted Knight did in selling what probably was poor material. Even Chevy Chase, who actually does show up for about 8-10 minutes isn’t all that funny. Here it seems like he walked on set, collected his paycheck, said a few jokes and lines from the original Caddyshack and bolted. And the less said about Randy Quaid, the better.
I have heard some say this is the worst sequel of the 80’s. I don’t think I can go that far (I haven’t seen that much to judge), plus I don’t really want to put the challenge out for people to name off worse sequels. I would list it among the most unnecessary sequels probably. In any case, I am content by saying the movie just plain sucks. Caddyshack II is one of the most consistently unfunny movies in a long time. This is a movie crippled by horrible acting and really off screenwriting day by Harold Ramis. This is a complete failure of a sequel which has nothing good of note. Well, except maybe Kenny Loggins returning for another original song.