Young Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) has found himself with a dilemma since leaving school for the summer because he now has to start thinking about college. The trouble is the money he needs to study law, money that he doesn't have and certainly won't earn working as a caddy at the nearby golf course. His favourite player to accompany is Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), a rich businessman who applies a Zen way of life to his game, even managing to play blindfold, a skill he fails to teach Danny. And then there's Judge Smails (Ted Knight), the wealthy and obnoxious golfer who believes he rules the roost - should Danny try to be sponsored by him?
The easygoing bad taste of Caddyshack is something American comedies have been trying to recapture for decades now, sometimes successfully, sometimes... not so much. When it was released, it garnered terrible reviews from those too uptight to see the pomposity-pricking value of the humour, but nevertheless became a firm favourite with comedy fans who were not so precious about where they got their laughs. In its cast was a mixture of talents: Saturday Night Live stars, a sitcom star and a standup comedian, along with promising newcomers, who didn't really go on to wildly successful careers, but had nothing to be ashamed of here.
The disparity between the majority of the conservative golf club members and those who seek to upset the applecart is the source of the humour, not that the disruptive influences are acting out of malice, far from it, it's more high spirits that fuels their behaviour. Threatening to steal the show is the priceless Rodney Dangerfield playing loudly dressed loudmouth Al Czervik, a businessman richer than anyone there and happy to let everyone know it, handing out tips like they were going out of fashion. The way he winds up the furious Judge is at the heart of some of the funniest moments, especially as we want to see the Judge brought down a peg or two.
But Dangerfield isn't the only laughter generator, as this offers what is probably Chase's best performance. At first we think he's a supremely confident smooth talker, an oasis of calm amidst the mayhem, but he has an unsteady side that makes us warm to him, as seen in the amusing seduction scene. And then there's Bill Murray talking out of the side of his mouth as the assistant groundskeeper, a strange chap who is assigned the job of ridding the courses of the menace of a gopher (an obvious-looking cute puppet) and takes this responsibility to Vietnam War proportions.
If there's a problem with these stars, it's that the screenwriters, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray and Douglas Kenney, don't seem to know how to integrate them together in one scene, preferring to keep them apart and let them do their thing in relative isolation. On the rare occasions they are brought together, they don't convey a sense of even being aware of each other's personalities as none of them can be the straight man in the other's company. That apart, it's still a funny film, resorting to cheap laughs like the golf ball in the bollocks or, famously, the chocolate bar in the swimming pool set piece but never making apologies for them, which is as it should be. Danny's choice between joining up with the Judge or going with the more renegade characters is taken seriously, but rarely undermines the humour. Caddyshack was undeniably influential, and easy to enjoy to if you ignored your inhibitions. Music by Johnny Mandel.