‘Gilmore’ can’t help but make us happy

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Adam Sandler’s over-the-top goofiness and juvenile humor aren’t for everyone. Critics say he’s got no talent as an actor, although many of those naysayers apparently haven’t seen Sandler’s brilliant turns in “Punch Drunk Love” and “Reign Over Me.” Some may still argue that the onetime Saturday Night Live comic relies too much on schtick even in more dramatic roles.

Sandler’s fans, on the other hand, embrace his bizarre behavior and penchant for silliness, which are on full display in films like 1996’s “Happy Gilmore.”

“Happy Gilmore” is a story about a short-tempered hockey reject whose freakish ability to drive a golf ball great distances is parlayed into a run in the PGA Tour.

As the title character, Sandler is new to golf (and indeed prefers to be identified as a hockey player), so in one sense it’s a fish-out-of-water story. While Gilmore can drive the ball from the tee like no other, his short game is absurdly poor. And then there’s his ignorance of the buttoned down traditions and finer points of golf. In one scene, Gilmore is so enraged by his inability to make a short putt that he unleashes a barrage of obscenities at the ball itself. This is all captured on live television and forces the censors to work overtime bleeping the F-bombs he drops. Such is typical Sandler comic fare, love it or hate it.

Carl Weathers stars as Chubbs, a retired golf pro who helps Gilmore get focused and develop a short game. The snarky Christopher McDonald expertly plays Gilmore’s arrogant rival, Shooter McGavin, a pro who sees Gilmore as a disgrace to his sport — and a threat to the championship that eludes him.

Even if you’re not ordinarily a Sandler fan, there is some redeeming value in this movie. Gilmore must conquer his temper and rein in his natural aggressiveness to achieve his goal of saving his grandmother’s home from foreclosure. And there are hidden moments of warmth — Gilmore’s hiring of a homeless man to be his caddie — along with depravity, such as his fantasy of a lingerie-clad Julie Bowen holding two pitchers of beer while grandma wins money at a slot machine nearby.

Serious cinema, it is not. But for what it’s worth, it’s Adam Sandler hilarity at its raucous best.