It holds up!
I want to start a new feature where we watch the beloved films of our youth. Like Clue!! Did you know that a certain co-blogger was so excited to see the additional endings in the theater that she wet her pants rather than miss a single moment by going to the bathroom? That’s devotion.
We watched Billy Madison the other night. I used to own this film. I have probably seen it fifty times. It is the beginning of Adam Sandler’s brief heyday, which would continue in my opinion through exactly one additional film (Happy Gilmore) and then fizzle out in a disappointing miasma of fart sounds and adult baby men. Then it would be strangely, wonderfully revived in Punch Drunk Love and, later, Funny People. What will happen next to Mr. Sandler? I for one remain open-minded. He is capable of great things.
Billy Madison is just a really well-made comedy, that’s just a straight-up fact. My old man pointed out that it is among the progenitors of the dreaded American Pie-style gross-out teen boy comedy, but, CRUCIALLY, it has constant, colorful elements of the absurd, the surreal, the whimsical, that those movies completely lack. American Pie is like if you made Billy Madison again but with a firm commitment to realism. Like, what the shit is that about? Infinitely more pleasing to the mind and heart is a giant adult baby man chasing an enormous penguin, or breaking into an abrupt huge song-and-dance number.
I am sorry, but that closing line is FUCKING GENIUS. So surprising, so absurd, so perfectly-suited to the subject matter (3rd graders).
The children in this film are exceptionally well-cast. The movie is surprisingly, consistently endearing, in terms of Sandler’s involvement with the kids.
And if you’ve forgotten how much Chris Farley always made you laugh, don’t!
(oh link why won’t you work??)
This is classic
Shit like this is so weird, totally what makes this movie work:
“If wetting your pants is cool, then call me Miles Davis!”
Or the bizarre stuff with his housekeeper/nanny and her intense sexual advances? So weird. “You want me to take my shirt off baby?” “No thanks, that’s okay.” “Okay baby, but just remember, the offer is on the table! ha ha ha!” “WHAT A WEIRDO!”
The incredible dog poop scene, which I can’t find on youtube, although I did find several re-enactments of it made by nerdy high school boys. “He called the shit ‘poop’!”
“Why won’t you gimme a snack pack? JUST GIMME A SNACK PACK!!!!!”
Also remember how Steve Buscemi is in this movie? I love that scene. Billy, in the course of becoming a man, realizes that he was a jerk to Buscemi in high school, so he calls him up to apologize. They have this very normal, nice conversation where Buscemi says “no problem, don’t worry about it,” then Sandler says great, and they hang up. Then we stay with Buscemi, who very thoughtfully takes out a marker, and reaches over to a huge piece of paper tacked to his wall that says “PEOPLE TO KILL,” and crosses “Billy Madison” off the list. That is a stellar joke. Offscreen space, unexpected punchlines, Buscemi’s performance…come on.
The guy who plays the villain is amazing. Such a wonderful bizarre performance. “Did you see that guy’s balls?” “Yeah…they were weird looking”
Of course there is also the requisite Beautiful Woman Finding Semi-Retarded Man-Child Charming When He Grabs Her Boobs On The Bus stuff but what are you gonna do, it was the nineties
I had forgotten HOW MANY of my idiomatic speech habits originally came from this movie.
- “got any more BRAIN BUSTERS?”
- “this is the greatest night of my life” [with accompanying hand gesture]
- “you know something kid YOU SUCK”
- “yeah well ‘sorry’ doesn’t put the triscuit crackers in my stomach, does it karl”
- “Don’t tell me my business, DEVIL WOMAN!!!!”
If I could go back in time and watch Billy Madison again instead of watching the Freud penis movie I would