'Gilmore' has a funny premise but wears it out

February 16, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

"Happy Gilmore" has one good idea, and it generates laughs for about an hour. Unfortunately, there's still a half-hour left in the movie.

The idea: a hockey mentality in a golf body. Happy, played by former "Saturday Night Live" Operaman Adam Sandler at a high pitch of adolescent fury, never really learned to skate, but boy, does he have a slap shot. Failing miserably on the ice, he bumbles onto a golf course, where his slap-shot muscles enable him to whack a golf ball 450 yards without a slice (yeah, right), earning him an amateur win that gets him on the pro tour, all this in about two minutes of screen time. There, he sees a way to earn the $270,000 he needs to save his grandma's house.

Alas, Happy likes to fight, curse, swig beer and dress like a slob. That's the movie, essentially, with Happy freaking amid the politely yuppified calcification that is demure pro golf culture. Actually, I wish the film had been more respectful of golf as a game and a culture, for it demands the utmost in confidence, concentration and talent.

Finally, the movie peters out as it reiterates its jokes endlessly and pursues a wisp of plot involving Christopher McDonald as a self-important pro golfer who schemes against Happy. But what else can you say about a movie in which Bob Barker, playing himself, is the best thing?

PG-13 Sun score: ** 1/2

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