Happy Gilmore

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Happy Gilmore
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Produced by Robert Simonds
Written by Tim Herlihy
Adam Sandler
Starring Adam Sandler
Christopher McDonald
Julie Bowen
Carl Weathers
Music by Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography Arthur Albert
Edited by Jeff Gourson
Steve R. Moore
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
February 16, 1996 (1996-02-16)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million
Box office $41.2 million[1]

Happy Gilmore is a 1996 American sports comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan with music by Mark Mothersbaugh and produced by Robert Simonds. It stars Adam Sandler as the title character, an unsuccessful ice hockey player who discovers a talent for golf. The screenplay was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy. The film was released in cinemas on February 16, 1996 by Universal Pictures. Happy Gilmore was a commercial success, earning $41.2 million on a $12 million budget. This film was the first of multiple collaborations between Sandler and Dugan. The film won an MTV Movie Award for "Best Fight" for Adam Sandler versus Bob Barker.


Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) is an aspiring ice hockey player who possesses a powerful and dangerous slapshot that his father (Louis O'Donoghue) taught him as a child (Donnie MacMillan) before he was apparently struck and killed by a wayward hockey puck, though his over aggressive streak (which once resulted in him trying to stab a guy to death with an ice skate) and lack of skating talent consistently preclude him from joining a hockey team. His girlfriend Terry (Nancy McClure), a schoolteacher, leaves him because of his hockey obsession.

His grandmother (Frances Bay) has not paid her taxes for many years. As such, she owes the IRS $270,000 in back taxes, and the house is about to be seized. Gilmore has only 90 days to come up with the money or else the house will be auctioned off. Grandma Gilmore is forced to temporarily move into a retirement home, run by a sadistic manager named Hal (Ben Stiller in an uncredited role). While repossessing Grandma's furniture, a pair of movers challenge Happy to hit golf balls. With his unorthodox, hockey slapshot-style swing, Happy hits the ball 400 yards three times, winning $40 as a result and starts hustling golfers with his swing at the driving range, leading former golf star and current club pro Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers) to convince Happy to enter a local tournament for a chance to win "big bucks". Peterson is known for losing his right hand to an alligator during his career. Happy wins the tournament and earns a spot on the Pro Golf Tour, though Chubbs advises him to wait 6 months so he can improve Happy's performance.

On the tour, Happy encounters Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), who sees Happy as both a detriment to golf and a threat to his career. Although Happy has a powerful drive, his putting is terrible with violent outbursts and lack of golf etiquette. Commissioner Doug Thompson (Dennis Dugan) demands to expel him from the tour, but PR head Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen) convinces him to reconsider, citing higher television ratings, increasing attendance, drawing more youthful sponsors, and that she's willing to work with Gilmore on his anger issues. Thompson threatens to fire her as well if there are any further incidents; Happy begins to improve his performance and behavior and becomes an instant celebrity.

Then during a pro-am tournament with then-host of The Price Is Right Bob Barker, he gets distracted by an insulting fan named Donald (Joe Flaherty), causing Barker and Happy to lose the tournament and Barker and Happy get into a brawl. Barker wins the brawl, but it's revealed that Shooter hired Donald to distract Happy and get him kicked off the tour. Thompson has a meeting with Happy, Virginia, and Shooter about the brawl with Barker, and Happy tries to tell Thompson about Donald bothering him and that Happy wanted to attack Donald and not Barker. Thompson says that due to the high TV ratings of the tournament, he decides not to kick Happy off the tour, but Happy must receive a punishment with a one-month suspension and a $25,000 fine. Happy tries to tell Thompson about Grandma's house but is sent away by an angry Thompson.

While being suspended, Happy becomes a spokesperson for Subway and gets enough money to get Grandma's house back, but when he gets to the house, an auction takes place and Happy is outbid by Shooter who has purchased the house for $350,000. Happy makes a bet with his rival based on the upcoming Tour Championship. He seeks the help of Chubbs, admitting his past mistakes and the two head to a miniature golf course. Happy progresses with Chubbs teaching him to go to his 'happy place' when he cannot calm down.

That night, Happy takes Chubbs back to his house to thank him for helping. Chubbs gives Happy one of his prized irons as an improvement gift, and Happy tells Chubbs that he has a gift for him too. Chubbs opens a large box, which has the present in it; the head of the alligator that took his hand, which Happy killed during one of his golf tournaments. Seeing the creature, Chubbs screams and falls backwards out of a window to his death.

Determined to win the tournament for Chubbs, Happy is evenly matched with Shooter after the first two rounds and leads Shooter by the end of the third day. On the fourth and final day, multiple unusual scenarios occur between both Happy and Shooter, with the latter losing after the former succeeds in the trick shot learned from Chubbs. Afterwards, an angry and hysterical Shooter attempts to steal Happy's gold jacket, but is chased down by Mr. Larson and an angry mob of spectators. Back at Grandma's house, the film closes with Happy being congratulated by the two-handed ghost of Chubbs, Abraham Lincoln, and the alligator.


  • Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore, a young man who wants to be a professional ice hockey player.
  • Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin, an arrogant golfer who is the top player on the "Pro Golf Tour" (fictionalized golf tour based on the PGA Tour).
  • Julie Bowen as Virginia Venit, a public relations director for the Pro Golf Tour.
  • Frances Bay as Grandma Gilmore.
  • Carl Weathers as Chubbs Peterson, a pro golfer who was forced to retire early when his hand was bitten off by an alligator. Weathers reprises the role in Adam Sandler's 2000 film Little Nicky, despite Little Nicky being produced by New Line Cinema.
  • Allen Covert as Otto, a homeless man who becomes Happy's caddy. The character is unnamed in the film (although it is revealed in a deleted scene) but is listed in the end credits. Covert reprises the role in Adam Sandler's 2011 film Jack and Jill.
  • Kevin Nealon as Gary Potter, the eccentric Pro Golf Tour pro Happy plays with in his first tournament.
  • Richard Kiel as Mr. Larson, Happy's towering former boss.
  • Dennis Dugan as Doug Thompson, the commissioner of the Pro Golf Tour.
  • Joe Flaherty as Unruly Fan, Donald
  • Will Sasso as mover
  • Lee Trevino as himself
  • Bob Barker as himself
  • Verne Lundquist as himself
  • Mark Lye as himself
  • Ben Stiller as Hal L. (uncredited), the sadistic orderly running the nursing home


Critical response [edit]

On the film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the received a 60% rating based on 52 reviews with a consensus review of "Those who enjoy Adam Sandler's schtick will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don't, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable."[2] On Metacritic, It holds a 31% rating based on 14 reviews, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews." [3] Brian Lowry of Variety stated that "The general tone nevertheless makes it difficult to elevate the gags beyond an occasional chuckle". Lowry only noted a few scenes he found inspired, including the fight scene with Bob Barker and when Happy attempts to find his "Happy Place" which was described as "Felliniesque".[4] Roger Ebert gave the film one and a half stars out of four, stating that Adam Sandler's character "doesn't have a pleasing personality: He seems angry even when he's not supposed to be, and his habit of pounding everyone he dislikes is tiring in a PG-13 movie". Ebert also noted the film's product placement stating that he "probably missed a few, but I counted Diet Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Subway, Budweiser (in bottles, cans, and Bud-dispensing helmets), Michelob, Visa cards, Bell Atlantic, AT&T, Sizzler, Red Lobster, Wilson, Golf Digest, the ESPN sports network, and Top-Flite golf balls".[5]

Ratings effect[edit]

The scene with Barker beating up Gilmore increased ratings for The Price Is Right in the younger demographics. Bob claimed every day someone in the audience asked him about Happy Gilmore. The show's producers had previously tried but failed to appeal to a younger demographic with a syndicated variation of the game, hosted by Doug Davidson.

Box office [edit]

The film was a commercial success, ranking #2 at the US box office on its debut weekend with $8.5 million in revenue. The film was made for $12 million and grossed a total of $41.2 million worldwide, with $38.8 million of that at the North American domestic box office.[1]


Happy Gilmore is still heavily discussed even today. Happy has been circulating the web once again with the film recently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Golf.com, Consequence of Sound and Golf Digest discussed the film, predominantly praising the villain Shooter McGavin.[6] [7][8] Other articles have covered relatively unknown trivial facts such as Carl Weathers's missing arm, which was the same arm from the movie Predator and the number of times nurse oderly Hal committed nursing home abuse.[9][10]


Adam Sandler earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor for the film.

The film was nominated for a Sound Effects award; foley artists spent over 40 hours designing, improving, and perfecting the sound of Adam Sandler’s golf swing.

The film won an MTV Movie Award for "Best Fight" for Adam Sandler versus Bob Barker.

Pop culture references[edit]

In 2015, Adam Sandler and Bob Barker performed a sketch as part of "Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars" (in support of Autism Awareness). In the sketch, the two engage in another fight similar to the one in the movie this time in a hospital. The end of the sketch has the two fighting in heaven, with Carl Weathers (as Chubbs) criticizing Sandler (calling him Happy) then quickly relenting and telling him to "kick his (Barker's) ass." The alligator and Lincoln are also seen.


  1. ^ a b "Happy Gilmore". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "Happy Gilmore". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/happy-gilmore
  4. ^ Lowry, Brian (February 19, 1996). "Happy Gilmore". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2010. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 16, 1996). "Happy Gilmore". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved July 2, 2010.  1.5/4 stars
  6. ^ "Happy Gilmore Turns 20: In Praise of Shooter McGavin". 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  7. ^ Myers, Alex. "Shooter McGavin is still winning tournaments, is now officially the best villain ever - Golf Digest". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  8. ^ "Tiger Woods Takes Selfie With Shooter McGavin". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  9. ^ "12 Things You Didn't Know About Happy Gilmore". 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  10. ^ "4 Instances of Nursing Home Abuse In Happy Gilmore - J Antonio Tramontana - Personal Injury Attorney". 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 

External links[edit]