Caddyshack II (1988)

Starring: Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Randy Quaid, and Dyan Cannon
Grade: D+

Say what you want about this movie, but Jack’s blow dryer having the design of a handgun was cool as hell. Where do I find that?


To open the film, we see that the gopher is still terrorizing the Bushwood Country Club. However, now the animal can mumble some English words.

At the country club and getting in a round of golf, Kate Hartounian (Jessica Lundy) is with the wealthy and snobbish brother and sister duo of Todd (Brian McNamara) and Miffy Young (Chynna Phillips). As Miffy makes fun of someone they knew because she found out her boyfriend is part Italian, she shanks a golf ball into a body of water. Since Kate and Miffy are roommates at Radcliffe, Todd mentions how he’s a Harvard Law School graduate and is surprised he never met Kate there. When she says she transferred from Michigan, Todd gives her a disturbed look and Miffy makes a joke saying she thinks their maid went there. After caddie Harry (Jonathan Silverman) makes a joke imitating Todd and Miffy to Kate, Miffy asks Harry for a drink way back at the snack bar. This forces Harry to run across the entire club to get it. Once he gets back, Miffy takes one drink and drops it on the ground, laughing as she walks away. Following this, Miffy and Kate leave, and Todd goes to talk to Harry and the other caddy. He tells them that the club recently purchased 50 golf carts. Once they’re delivered, all the caddies will be fired. Meanwhile, Miffy suggests to Kate that she get her father Jack (Mason) to join Bushwood Country Club. Kate doesn’t say it’s a bad idea, but the hesitation is obvious because a country club isn’t really her father’s style.

Next, we see Jack on his work site. He’s a wealthy real estate developer and is currently on a job site playing cards with the construction workers on their lunch break. He loses the game on purpose. After the forewoman Royette (Marsha Warfield) calls him out on it in private, he admits he has a soft spot because the worker doesn’t have a lot of money and has a full house that he has to take care of. Seeing how there’s some commotion below the site, Jack goes down to see what’s happening. Apparently, there are representatives from the Historical Preservation Society and a lawyer gives him a temporary injunction prohibiting him from demolishing any structures on the Armstrong estate until the city planning commission can rule on their appeal. In addition, the snobby Cynthia (Dina Merrill) complains that this small, broken-down carriage house on the Armstrong estate is part of their heritage. Jack argues the property has been lying dead for twenty-five years, and he bought it to put up some decent housing that working people can afford, accusing Cynthia of not wanting working people living in the area. She tells Jack she’s not going to argue, and they’ll have to move her and the representatives of the Historical Preservation Society himself for them to leave. He obliges and has Royette chase them all off the property with a bulldozer.

Later, Kate drives Jack to the Bushwood, as she wants to enter high society and her down-to-earth-to-a-fault father is her only shot. He’s not too excited, but he’s doing it for her. Upon arriving, Miffy greets them, and Jack tries to throw some jokes at her, though none of them land. Miffy and Kate go to meet Todd. On the way, Miffy apologizes to Kate because she didn’t know how her father was. Meanwhile, Jack goes into the club to see friend and now majority owner of the Bushwood Country club in laidback goofball Ty Webb (Chase). Still up to his usual antics, Ty shows Jack around and introduces him to members of the club in one of the funniest sequences of the movie. This leads Jack to meeting Club President Chandler Young (Stack), Miffy’s father. Once Ty leaves, Chandler introduces Jack to friendly and wealthy widow Elizabeth Pierce (Cannon). As they talk, Chandler brings over his wife Cynthia to introduce Jack to her. Sadly, it’s the same Cynthia from earlier who he chased away with a bulldozer. Jack tries to apologize, so Chandler takes an angry Cynthia aside to calm her down. He then says he promised Miffy they would play golf together, and this is a chance to save the Armstrong estate. Jack, Chandler, Cynthia, and Elizabeth play some golf, and Jack surprises the others with the clubs in his possession. One of them is similar to a gun and another is a high-tech gadget that does all the work for him. After knocking in a ball with the latter, Jack asks Chandler in private what his chances are of joining the club. Though he’s not necessarily threatening about it, Chandler basically says Jack can’t put up the housing on the site. If he doesn’t, he’ll get in the club. They agree to leave the real estate stuff to the lawyers.

Unfortunately, this lawyer meeting doesn’t go well.

Todd and Mr. Pierpont (Anthony Mockus Sr.), representing the Historical Preservation Society, try to threaten Jack’s lawyer Peter Blunt (Quaid) about how much the legal fees and construction delays will cost Jack and his company if they go to trial, but Blunt isn’t scared in the slightest. In fact, he flips out on both of them and scares the living fuck out of them until they leave. Once they run away, a calm Peter goes to Jack and tells him they’re not allowed to build anything on Bushwood Estates until they get a final decision from the planning commission. They’ll have to have a hearing. The next day, Chandler is out with his horse, and he’s show jumping it over objects. Miffy and Kate compliment him on it just as Jack and Elizabeth pull up on horses as well. Acting like the whole issue between their lawyers wasn’t a big deal, Chandler challenges Jack to a friendly competition of show jumping, despite Jack’s inexperience with horseback riding in general. Even so, Jack accepts. He does horribly compared to Chandler which only embarrasses Kate more, though Jack gets the last laugh when Chandler falls off his horse into some mud on the final object, one in which Jack clears. That night, there’s a gala of sorts at the country club. Kate and Jack show up together, and Kate pleads with Jack to act nice with everyone and at least pretend to like them, though this isn’t an easy task for him. She introduces Jack to the guy she likes, which happens to be Todd. Jack greets him but wonders why Todd is familiar to him. Being the smug douche he is, Todd happily tells Jack he’s the one suing him. As Jack starts flipping out, Elizabeth stuffs food in his face to get him to stop talking and takes him into the ballroom. The two show out on the dance floor and absolutely kill it, but it just disgusts everyone in the room.

I think it’s because they are better dancers than everyone, but it’s hard to say.

Once Kate goes outside because she’s embarrassed again, she finds Harry hitting golf balls on the front lawn of the club by himself. Together, they have an honest conversation where Kate admits she wants to be considered “high class” to fit in. Harry tells her how unimportant this is, but it only reminds Kate how similar Harry is to her father and she misses the point entirely because she’s a moron. Back inside, the gala turns into a “slave auction” for charity. This is where they bring up a wealthy member of the club for people to bid on, and the person who is “bought” does chores and other projects for an indeterminate amount of time. Last year’s record was $4,500. As Elizabeth tells Jack about this and the auctioneer readies everyone, Chandler pulls Jack aside to talk in private. He tells Jack his application has been denied and how he’s not “Bushwood material”. In retaliation, Jack outbids everyone to win Cynthia and all of the members of the “slave auction” for $11,950, including Chandler himself. For the chores, he makes them all work on his job site for a day where they fail miserably.

The war games between Jack and Chandler have just begun, and Kate may be collateral damage because of it.

My Thoughts:

Did we need a sequel to Caddyshack? No, but Caddyshack II could have succeeded.

First of all, I didn’t hate the idea. The studio coming up with the tagline of “The Shack is Back” was reason enough to get excited. Sure, you never want to ruin a classic, but if the pieces were there and the stars that made the original what it was were willing to comeback, Caddyshack II could have been a decent sequel. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. just went at things from all the wrong angles and didn’t recognize when something wasn’t working. After strong-arming Harold Ramis into writing a sequel by implying someone else would do it and ruin the baby he helped create, they went ahead with things by trying to make the sequel all about Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik character. Eight years removed from the first movie, Dangerfield was in high demand and was a huge star. He wanted big money and got it, though he backed out before filming began and caused a huge lawsuit. This was the domino effect that changed everything, but we need to look at the intentions here. Even though Ted Knight already passed away by 1988 and Bill Murray had no interest in returning, there was still some potential with the original idea and the focus being on the much-improved actor in Dangerfield. With a much more experienced Harold Ramis (with hits like Ghostbusters, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Back to School now under his belt) writing the script around a more grounded and proven Dangerfield, a returning Chevy Chase, a hard-working Dan Aykroyd, and burgeoning stand-up legend Sam Kinison set to play the role of Al’s maniac lawyer, this could have been a lot of fun.

Though the improvisation and chaotic nature probably wouldn’t have been the same compared to the first movie, the maturity behind the main performers and Ramis’s experience as a filmmaker and writer might have put together a much more complete film than its predecessor. It may not have been as funny, but there’s a good chance it would be a more developed screenplay in terms of character and plot development. However, the first major misstep that stopped the sequel’s momentum in its tracks was losing Dangerfield. The entire idea of the movie was built around the character of Al Czervik. Instead of sitting back, regrouping, and rewriting, and maybe getting a younger star to save what could have been, they get Jackie Mason. Though a stand-up comic in his own right, he was never going to be the charismatic star Dangerfield was and was also unproven as the star of his own film. Giving him the tall task of resurrecting an iconic film like Caddyshack was a major risk and already spelled doom for the production before they started filming.

Why not get someone younger to save the movie like Billy Crystal, or even see what it would take to get a Steve Martin? Hell, convincing Harold Ramis himself to star might have been a better option! Instead, they decide to pick Jackie Mason out of left field, and they risked it all.

The frustrations were just beginning. Early on, the character is established as almost exactly the same as Dangerfield’s Al Czervik. Jack is a millionaire, he runs a construction site, dresses loud with bright and unmatched colors, and his general demeanor and joke-telling ability draws the ire of the old money members of the Bushwood Country Club. It’s the exact same character, only Mason is nowhere near Dangerfield as a comedian or comic actor, and it’s noticeable from the first thirty seconds of screentime. Mason has decent material, but the viewer reacts much like everyone else in the film does, with blank stares. You want to laugh because you want to like him, but it’s just not that funny. However, the problem isn’t just with his expected shtick. The character is written to prove his worthiness as a good person, going the extra mile to show why he’s a likable, wealthy man who fights for the middle and lower classes with his money, but they try to beat you over the head with his “admirable” character traits in the name of fighting elitism to the point where it’s preachy. The reason Rodney Dangerfield’s Al was so likable was that you still got this sense of him being a good guy just by watching him interact with other members of the club. He didn’t have to have a private conversation with someone in every scene to fully explain how he doesn’t like snobby people and how they act better than everyone. In this sequel, they keep on having Jack tell us why he’s a good guy, while Al would just show us naturally and with humor.

In a nutshell, this is what’s wrong with the final product of this movie compared to its predecessor. The free spirit of the comedy takes a backseat to make Jack look like a good guy and Mason isn’t a good enough comic or actor to pull it off. Also, the first Caddyshack succeeded because of how the characters, and possibly the actors themselves, didn’t give a fuck. They turned the country club into a madhouse and though they all had personal morals and whatever else, the “good guys” let their personality do the talking by just existing next to the villains of the story. Within this freedom, the “slobs vs. snobs” story came naturally out of the pores of the humor and the talent involved. Because of this, they were off to the races. In Caddyshack II, they tried to force the issue too hard, and we never get the same connection with the new characters.

Plus, there was just a bit more attitude and wickedness from the principal characters. In Caddyshack II, everyone is too nice. The movie is too civilized. From Jack to every other character besides Ty and Peter, everyone is too “PG”. If you haven’t been paying attention, this is the complete opposite of what the first film was about. The madness is what made the original movie what it was! Harry isn’t the mischievous caddie Danny Noonan was, Jackie Mason doesn’t have the strong personality Dangerfield had and isn’t funny enough to lead the cast, and Robert Stack is nowhere near the comic talent Ted Knight was as the main antagonist. Dealing with someone like Mason, Stack should be playing things a bit more over-the-top. He should be more animated in his role to keep the vibe of the Caddyshack series going, but he plays way too restrained, relatively straight, and kind of boring as a result. He’s way too one-dimensional and doesn’t do anything of note. The only amusing thing he did was when he makes the plan with the other members of the club to target Jack to make sure he never works in their town again, one guy asks if going to all this trouble is really worth it. Stack’s deadpan response of “Yes” was chuckle worthy. That’s pretty much all he gave us. Instead of having fun with the role, he plays it like a “television movie bad guy”. Then, in a far-fetched turn of events, he loses some ground to Jack, and he basically hired Dan Aykroyd’s Captain Tom Everett to either kill Jack or hurt him very badly during the game, which seems strangely dark for the goofy atmosphere of the rest of the movie.

Isn’t it weird that though Stack’s Chandler Young isn’t willing to kill somebody, but Ted Knight’s Judge Smails is still the better villain without question? This should tell you all you need to know about some of the issues with this sequel.

The character of Captain Tom Everett had good intentions, but Aykroyd was surprisingly disappointing in the role. On paper, it made sense. If you can’t get Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd is a pretty good consolation prize. Unfortunately, the character just wasn’t nearly as funny as he needed to be when the film started picking up, wasn’t given very much to do outside of the main goal, and the odd voice Akroyd chose to play the character with was jarring, a little unbelievable, and wasn’t as amusing as he clearly thought it was. His usual fast-paced, military-like style of speaking would have fit just as well. Even the caddies weren’t as memorable as the one’s from the first film, which is saying something considering how famously the caddies were overshadowed there. Early in the movie, the caddies are replaced by golf carts. There’s no revolt. The caddies don’t use this as motivation to fight the snobs back either. They just lose their jobs and move on, with Harry wandering in from time to time and eventually getting a job as a lifeguard at Jack’s reopening of Jacky’s Wacky Golf on the property of the old country club. Though the mini-golf extravaganza did look like loads of fun, having no caddies and no country club in a sequel to fucking Caddyshack changes everything that made the first movie what it was! Look, you’re allowed to deviate from the formula to make the sequel your own thing, but the rewrites of Ramis’s script chose to change all the wrong things. Along with taking the caddies and the country club out of Caddyshack, they kept the plot almost completely the same but used the higher budget on the mini-golf sets and the (admittedly awesome) wardrobe of the cast. Then, they changed the stars of the movie but kept the same characters and just changed their names.

It wasn’t just Jackie Mason’s Jack being an exact, less entertaining copy of Dangerfield’s Al, but the ENTIRE movie was a retread of the original film with different actors like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho or Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The caddies play the underdog, Dan Aykroyd is Carl Spackler with a military background but nowhere near as funny (including the trait of liking old women, which Murray again did better), Jack is the down-to-earth, fun-loving millionaire challenging the old guard of Chandler Young (the Judge Smails copy), who tries to keep up the reputation of Bushwood, and there is a general divide between the young/middle class and the wealthy snobs. It’s almost the same exact thing, but the first movie is better in every category. The main caddie role of Harry was nowhere near the importance of Danny nor was he as relatable. In addition, Jonathan Silverman doesn’t hold a candle to the likable Michael O’Keefe. Then again, I shouldn’t have been expecting much from the star of the Weekend at Bernie’s franchise. I’m not sure what Jessica Lundy’s excuse was though. Her presence drives the plot because of her want to be considered “higher class” and how she has trouble with the fact that her father Jack refuses this label because it changes who they are as people. Now, the idea may mean a lot on paper, but she did not have the chops as an actress to make us give a single fuck about her character or her plight. The in-your-face dialogue about how snobby people suck didn’t help matters much either.

When they try to be different like with the Todd/Kate/Harry love triangle or the lawyer stuff with Peter, we see the potential of some heat, but it’s never capitalized on in favor of more flat one-liners from Jack.

You can’t go too far with the gopher either. The first movie was bordering on pushing things too far already, but they went overboard with it in this sequel to where it was just plain dumb. Did they really think the gopher having the ability to mumble English words and stealing and eating things like a real-life Garfield was really that funny? There’s no way. By the time it started to interact with Everett, there’s not a single earned laugh stemming from the puppet’s actions. Also, I can suspend my disbelief for almost anything when it comes to movies and television, but you are out of your mind if you think I can believe that Dyan Cannon’s fine self would fall for this harmless, yet unfunny curmudgeon that Jackie Mason plays in this movie. If they became good friends and partners in crime against the assholes of Bushwood, I would wholeheartedly understand. However, you cannot convince me in any way, shape, or form that Cannon is head over heels for this moron. There’s ZERO chemistry between them. Actually, Mason doesn’t seem to have chemistry with anyone in the film if we’re being honest, including with the girl who plays his daughter in Jessica Lundy.

The saving grace of Caddyshack II was Chevy Chase’s return as Ty Webb. Yes, Chase might have been an asshole on set (no surprise there), but I cannot stress to you enough how funny his performance was in this sequel. His role alone saves this movie from the label of being “The Worst Sequel of All Time”. People throw around this phrase too much already, but I assure you that Caddyshack II‘s entertainment value is saved by Ty Webb as he continues being the absolutely careless, nonchalant, sarcastic, and hysterical millionaire who does not give a flying fuck about life itself or the people in it. He’s someone I aspire to be. All of the best laughs of the entire movie stem from Ty Webb’s scenes, and that’s a fact. Right from his intro scene in the club where he shows how he’s up to his usual antics of messing with anyone around him like saying people’s poker hands aloud and putting charcuterie meat on some guy’s shoulder, it’s great to see Ty Webb in his older age with more power and caring even less than before. Honestly, it sounds like the real Chevy Chase in 1988. The sequence continues, and you can’t help but laugh out loud when he introduces Jack to every old member of the club in the locker room and getting every one of their names wrong after looking at their naked bodies and guessing. It’s hysterical. He pisses off virtually everyone he comes into contact with but again, he just moves along without a care in the world.

Everyone just accepts it too because they are well aware of the enigma that is Ty, with Chandler noting “He’s a little strange”, calling back to the “screw loose” comment from the first film.

Even though he’s not the Club President like Chandler, he owns 53% of the club, something he didn’t even know until Jack reminds him when he offers to buy the place. Even though it could change things, it doesn’t take much to convince him in a sequence just as funny as his intro scene. To add to the Zen-like nature of the character and how he’s at total peace with his lackadaisical lifestyle, we see more of the Asian-influence of the rooms he inhabits too, as well as random details like Ty’s family portrait just having everyone with Chase’s face painted on. Watching Ty use the country club as his playground, Chase steals the show without even trying, and it’s fantastic. He doesn’t even golf outdoors anymore, preferring to stay inside with his robe while breaking windows left and right as he plays by himself. Plus, he’s still a master of the game, as we see him make an impossible shot from inside to outside, only adding to legend of Ty Webb and solidifying the character for fans of the franchise. No matter what you think of Caddyshack II and how things played out, you will be happy with what they did in honoring the original’s most endearing character. Even his delivery of looking at his nonexistent watch and excusing himself from a situation with “Well, I got a thing” still works because of Chase’s perfect delivery.

I probably wouldn’t have worn the earring though, but that’s just me. Maybe Chase was going through a midlife crisis or something.

Special credit goes to Randy Quaid’s unhinged performance as the unpredictable and unstable lawyer of Jack. Though Sam Kinison would have been perfect in the role as he was cast originally (he backed out when Dangerfield backed out), Quaid did a good enough job to garner some decent laughs outside of Chase. If this sequel were done right and was handled with care, Quaid’s performance would still feel right at home. Other than Ty and Captain Tom Everett, Quaid’s Peter Blunt was the only character that fit the original vision of what this series was about.

Caddyshack II is not the worst sequel of all time. There are so many others that are far worse. You just haven’t seen enough movies to realize it. Even so, the criticisms are still accurate. Had this film been handled by the right people, it could have been decent. Unfortunately, when things started to fall apart before filming began, they should’ve either quit before things got really bad or just picked anyone else to star in the movie. I truly believe this sequel could have been salvaged with three key tweaks. Sadly, those tweaks were major. A new star was needed, a rewrite of the screenplay was needed that didn’t make this almost the exact same movie as the first one, and the main cast outside of Chase, Aykroyd, and Quaid needed to be given to actual talent. Actually, as I say it out loud, maybe it was pretty bad…

Chevy Chase was great though!

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