I wouldn’t normally bother with reviewing the worthless sequel to a classic, but I’m going to tackle it with “Caddyshack II” – the putrid follow-up to one of the greatest comedies of all time. Like any Sasha Baron Cohen film or stinkers such as “Freddy Got Fingered,” I’ve personally rated “Caddyshack II” as “crap.” And I actually labeled it that back when I saw it on its premiere night in 1988. I didn’t want to hate it. After all, “Caddyshack” is a seminal comedy (along with “Animal House”) that I enjoyed so much back in the day. Still, feces is feces and “Caddyshack II” is just that.
(1988; 198 minutes; rated PG; directed by Allan Arkush and starring Jackie Mason, Robert Stack and Dyan Cannon)
THE SMELL HITS YOU FROM THE FIRST SCENE
(NOTE: I expanded this review with a bit more opinion and some more trivia on July 1, 2016.)
I’m sure that it’s just coincidence, but Allan Arkush directed the putrid sequel “Caddyshack II” in 1988 and has never worked since as a director in film. It wouldn’t be because of the wasted talent or farkakte writing and ideas in “Caddyshack II,” but I believe it is just karma (and a relief to audiences) that he should stick with television. If you screw up the sequel to one of the all-time great comedies, you don’t deserve to be in film any longer.
You do not have to look any further than “Caddyshack II” to see just how low Hollywood could go with a sequel, even though it had a genesis of success: several key players return and the original “Caddyshack” was so fresh and executed so well that even a pale imitation might not have been bad. However, “Caddyshack II” is bad. Real bad.
Also, “Caddyshack II” marks a truly low career point for comedy legend Dan Aykroyd. He was hired to pick up where Bill Murray left off in the original, but is so awfully horrid in such a regrettable stinker of a character that it is not to be believed until you actually witness the car crash that is his work here. Plus, his scene with Chevy Chase can only be described as insipid, stupid, crass and not worthy of either of them.
Arkush had some good parts with which to work (yes, there are funny jokes and some good work by actors), but just like an octopus asked to assemble an automobile, he is obviously out of his element and what could have been a modestly funny film is dreck. Arkush took over direction of the film from Alan Metter, who obviously saw what was coming and had the good sense to bail.
In “Caddyshack,” it was the hoi-polloi versus the snobs and so it is in “Caddyshack II.” The bare bones of the plot is outsider Jackie Mason gets snubbed at the club, buys it, turns it basically into a miniature golf course (windmills, etc.) and shows up the snobs. You really don’t need to know any more.
Two-time Primetime Emmy winner Mason is in the lead as the uncouth but rich “Jack Hartounian” (he earlier played a character named “Harry Hartounian” in Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”) and you could take any understudy in any high school play and he would do a better job here. Unlike the original’s Rodney Dangerfield (who was in his second film role, while Mason was in his eighth), Mason’s comedy does not translate well here. Well, to be fair, no entertainer’s work would translate well in this mess and, to be gentle, Mason’s doesn’t translate at all. He is funny (and a few times here), but it just doesn’t translate. Mason won his Emmys voicing “The Simpsons” and in a writing category.
The best work here is by four supporting actors:
- Jonathan Silverman as the caddy “Harry” carrying on “Danny Noonan’s” legacy. Like “Danny,” Silverman’s character takes the moral and ethical high ground and he turns out a nice-but-wasted effort. There is simply nothing he could have done to rescue the part. I liked him much better in “Weekend at Bernie’s” (click here for my review) and he was in “Little Big League” and, like so many in Hollywood, did an episode in the “Law & Order” franchise (he did “Special Victims Unit” – click here for my look at that series).
- Jessica Lundy as “Kate Hartounian,” who is Mason’s daughter. Lundy enjoys her stuck-up friends (who don’t know her ancestry) and wants Dad to join Bushwood Country Club and she’s likable, competent as can be here and fortunately for her gets lost in the cast. Lundy made her big screen entrance in 1988 with two other films: “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Vampire’s Kiss.” She was also in “Single White Female.”
- Marsha Warfield as Mason’s brassy, straight-shooting assistant “Royette Tyler.” Warfield bulldozes (literally) through her role and her talent at brash is completely wasted because she’s not on screen enough. She is best known for her work on TV’s “Night Court” and was also in “Mask.”
- Golden Globe nominee (not for this one) Brian McNamara plays the ultra-snooty, young Harvard Law grad “Todd Young.” McNamara is the best actor cast here, playing the snob to perfection in tone, inflection and dress – and even in mannerism. McNamara was also in “Short Circuit” and got his nomination for TV’s “The Billionaire Boys Club.”
In the end, the funniest supporting actor is Oscar nominee (not for this one) Randy Quaid, five years removed from his first role as “Cousin Eddie” in the “Vacation” film franchise (click here for my review of “Christmas Vacation”). Quaid plays volcanic attorney “Peter Blunt” well, coming out of the box by telling two Bushwood members that he doesn’t go in for all that legal jazz. He tells them, “First, I find out where you live …” See. Funny, but Arkush inevitably fumbles the ball that’s offered and wastes the effort. Thanks, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here). Quaid was very effective in the “The Long Riders” (click here for my review)
- Three-time Oscar nominee (not for this one) Dyan Cannon gets a shot at 50 playing sexpot “Elizabeth Pearce” and doesn’t do a bad job. She doesn’t do a good job, but she’s affable and smooth in the role … still, the parts just do not come together. She was simply wonderful and truly earned two of her nominations for “Heaven Can Wait” and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.” I liked her best in “Revenge of the Pink Panther.”
- The same is the quirky Paul Bartel of “Eating Raoul,” “European Vacation,” “The Usual Suspects” and “The Jerky Boys.” He plays “Mr. Jamison,” a sexually ambiguous club member. Just as with Silverman, Warfield, McNamara and Quaid, what could have been a plus just doesn’t arrive. I’d like to say he deserved more screen time because of his talent, but more time here would have just be more time to fail. Thanks, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here). Bartel died in 2000 at 61 of a heart attack – and he’d been diagnosed with liver cancer.
Also not bad, but also not used to best effect are the few good jokes. Take the always-funny flatulence humor (remember, “Who stepped on a duck?” in the original?). It starts out funny here by Mason riding a horse when one bursts out and Stack says, “Your horse has quite a gas problem.” Mason replies, “It’s not the horse.” OK, not knock-down funny like Dangerfield’s, but OK. Then they ruin it with another at the end of the scene. Thanks, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here).
Headed down the slippery slope we find:
- Veteran actors Robert Stack (an Oscar nominee and not for this one) and Dina Merrill as Mason’s chief antagonists, “Chandler and Cynthia Young.” Both would be well-suited to a similar role as both have the screen presence of dignity, class and the ability to be just stuck-up enough. Again, though, their talents are lost here. Thanks, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here). Oh, yes, Stack, who was great in the sensational “Airplane!” flick and I liked his voicing in “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America,” died in 2003 at 84 of a heart attack. As for Merrill, I liked her in “Operation Petticoat” with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis (click here for my review).
Further down the slope we find:
- “Caddyshack” veteran and two-time Golden Globe nominee (not for this one) Chase. He has a few moments, such as introducing Mason to club members (especially to Stack) but soon hits bottom and is obviously just mailing it in. Thanks, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here). BTW, I’m not writing a bunch of Chevy’s credits because it’s a CV too long to list all his successes here.
Finally, at the bottom of the pile is …
- … Oscar nominee (not for this one) Dan Aykroyd as “Capt. Tom Everett” in a reprehensible effort that attempts to reinvent the role of Murray, who was the iconic groundskeeper “Carl Spackler” in the original. From his first scene to the last, Aykroyd is just plain stupid and shows absolutely nothing of his ability. The comedy doesn’t play and what he’s doing with a whiny voice, I can only imagine. Thanks, Dan (insert sarcasm icon here), I’m sure you could have done it absolutely anyway else and it would have embarrassed you less than the steaming pile of ooze you plopped down for us. Allan, you finally went too far inflicting this mess on us. As for Dan, he was nominated for “Driving Miss Daisy” and I and many others like him best in “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis (click here for my review).
All the you-know-what rolls downhill to the valley that you call the end of the film (if you even make that far), where Mason has transformed the club’s golf course with windmills, goofy characters and even putting on an ice skating rink. I understand the attempt at using the miniature golf metaphor as a way to tweak the noses of the real country club set, but it just comes off as lacking any creativity here (the opposite of what “Caddyshack” managed … but then again, it had some of the best comic minds of their generation doing it; “Caddyshack II” had Allan).
In the final tally, “Caddyshack II” stinks because it is just miserable filmmaking and all the actors probably wore bags over their heads if they even chose to attend the premiere. An especially big thanks for this one, Allan (insert sarcasm icon here).
“Caddyshack II” was a flat tire at the box office (and won several “worst” awards), making $11.8 million on a budget of $20 million, according to Wiki. The No. 1 film of the year was “Home Alone” with $285.7 million, and Box Office Mojo reports “Caddyshack II” was the 82nd ranked film at the box office for 1988. In comparison, the original “Caddyshack” did $39.8 million (in eight-years-earlier dollars) and, as an unknown “youth film,” was 17th at the box office in 1980.
Here are the films from 1988 that I’ve reviewed for this blog:
- “Cocktail” (very good) – click here for my review
- “Betrayed” (solid drama) – click here for my review
- “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (great) – click here for my review
- “Johnny Be Good” (crap) – click here for my review
- “License to Drive” (bad but funny) – click here for my review
- “Midnight Run” (really good) – click here for my review
- “Married to the Mob” (excellent) – click here for my review
- “Noble House” (great TV mini-series) – click here for my review
- “The Presidio” (wonderful) – click here for my review
- “Sidekicks” (watchable) – click here for my review
- “They Live” (not very good) – click here for my review
- “Twins” (simply terrific) – click here for my review
Here are some final cast notes (via IMDb.com):
- Directly from IMDb.com: “Reportedly, during post-production, actor Chevy Chase said to director Allan Arkush, “Call me when you’ve dubbed the laugh-track” and then walked away disgusted.”
- Chynna Phillips of the singing group “Wilson Phillips” plays “Mary Frances ‘Miffy’ Young.”
- Of the primary cast from “Caddyshack II,” only Merrill made an appearance on “The Love Boat.” Warfield did “Love Boat: The Next Wave,” but this doesn’t count as a real “Love Boat” episode (click here for my look at that great TV series).
- Upon checking the script, Dangerfield reportedly turned it down cold and fellow comedian Sam Kinison did not accept the role of “Peter Blunt” because of Dangerfield’s decision. Good choice by both comedians.
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