How have you never seen…Billy Madison?

[Have you ever heard someone say “I’d pay good money to be able to watch that movie again for the first time?” Well, that’s the idea behind these articles. One of the Stew Over editors has missed out on a famous piece of entertainment.]

In today’s installment, I try to convince Chas to watch the first of Adam Sandler’s two funny movies: Billy Madison.

Watching Billy Madison for the first time in 1995 – Dave

When Billy Madison was first released in 1995, Adam Sandler was all the rage with 13 year old boys. He was a leading character on Saturday Night Live and he had released a crude comedy albums, They’re All Going to Laugh at You in 1993 that contained everything a 13 year old could love. Vulgarity, Sex Jokes, Masturbation jokes, urination jokes, and of course jokes about being high and/or drunk. Enter his leading role in a movie debut in Billy Madison. I remember losing my mind over this movie when I was a kid as I was convinced that not only was this the funniest movie ever made, but Adam Sandler was the funniest human being on the planet.

Of course, today is 2012 and since Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler has released a number of terrible movies with a few decent films thrown in. Admittedly though, they’ve mostly been total crap. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that for a limited time in mid to late 90s, Adam Sandler was on top of the world in the hearts and minds of adolescent boys nationwide.

It is with this long introduction that I get to the question the whole world wants to know. As an adolescent boy in the mid to late 1990s how on earth is it possible you haven’t seen Billy Madison before? I find this INconceivable. To right this wrong of your childhood past, I’m going to present you with the top X reasons why Billy Madison is amazing.

Billy Madison is hilarious.

1. Billy Madison is better than Happy Gilmore. This was always a very contentious debate in the high school lunchroom, however, I think that Billy Madison is better than Happy Gilmore. The fact that you’ve seen and enjoy Happy Gilmore leads me to believe that you’ll enjoy Billy Madison.

2. It holds up. I saw Billy Madison a couple of months ago and I’m happy to report it holds up. Some of the song and dance numbers are a little much and the whole bit with the penguin is weird but other than that, the movie is still very funny.

3. You are missing out on a ton of jokes. Billy Madison is one of the more quotable movies around. You’re a funny guy, get in on the jokes!

Chris Farley. Golden God.

4. Chris Farley is good in this. Farley had very few stinkers (Beverly Hills Ninja being the only obvious one) and he’s very funny in Billy Madison.

5. “That Veronica Vaughn is one piece of ACE.” Bridgett Wilson looks pretty darn good in this. Not only that, but a guy I know (Pete Sampress), him and her, Got It On!

6. If we polled 100 30 year old males, I think 99 of them would have seen this movie. AKA, You had to work to avoid this. It had to be a lot of work avoiding this movie. A lot of explaining to people why you haven’t seen it. Lots of judgmental looks. Stop fighting and see the damn movie already.

7. It’s an hour and a half long, and you can do something else while you watch it. This isn’t Breaking Bad. You can be doing just about anything else while you watch the movie.

Steve Buscemi. Golden God.

8. It has Steve Buscemi in it. Buscemi is amazing and you should make it a life goal to see every movie he’s ever been in.

9. The most important reason: It’s funny. If the movie sucked I wouldn’t be asking you to watch it, but it doesn’t. It’s very funny.

10. You can weigh in on the Mortal Kombat vs. Donkey Kong Country debate. Although I’m fairly confident your response would be that both games suck, you will actually understand what I’m referring to after you see the movie.

Watching Billy Madison for the first time in 2012 – Chas

When I sat down last week to watch Billy Madison I had no solid recollection of the movie.  I’d definitely never seen it, that much was clear, but I had a vague mental image of Adam Sandler running around chasing a penguin.  When I was 13 I remember thinking that this was very dumb, and that’s coming from the same 13 year old that nearly pissed himself in the theater watching Ace Ventura make a mockery of Africa. So yeah, low standards  So Billy Madison kicked off with the penguin scene much like I remembered.  My 30 year old self’s assessment did not depart from my 13 year old opinion: very dumb.

After the initial drug induced chase scene I was reminded of every reason people get annoyed with Adam Sandler.  The Billy Madison character is a loose excuse for Sandler to go around shouting like an idiot and behaving like a charming moron (emphasis on the second word.)  I found myself increasingly confused as to if Billy Madison actually had some sort of learning impairment or if he was just a misguided goofball.  One scene he’s completely normal and even charming and the next he’s a wide eyed court jester talking to inanimate objects.  Also throw in a dose of wasted Norm MacDonald (is there any other kind?) and a broad but not deep cast of B-level comics and you have a flaming bag of poop.

About 30 minutes into the movie I contemplated turning it off and cancelling my Amazon account to ensure I never had to watch Billy Madison again.  But then something happened. I stopped minding  the stupid voices, the completely unbelievable plot and the inconsistent comic styles and actually began to enjoy myself.  The jokes started hitting more often than not and I really started to enjoy the increasingly bizarre comedic moments.  The movie does a remarkable job developing a good-hearted, enjoyable tone and in the midst of Sandler’s clowning we get some truly standout moments:

  • Billy’s large african-american maid who always threatens him with sexual acts
  • Buscemi’s deeply troubled psychopath
  • Zero Mostel’s son playing an elementary school principal with a dark luchador past
  • And of course, the famous insult:

The chief antagonist (Eric Gordon) and Billy’s obligatory love interest (Veronica Vaughn) alternate between serviceable and annoying, but overall they’re largely forgetable.  Sorry Dave, but I rolled my eyes when Veronica (the actress who married Pete Sampras) jumped into a pool with a white shirt on. It’s a PG-13 movie so you don’t see anything of note and Pete Sampras is a tennis player so in my book her marriage is as noteworthy as if she married the pharmacist at the nearby Walgreens.

As the credit’s rolled I realized that I loved pretty much everything about this movie, except for Adam Sandler.    There were parts where he was decent but most of the truly memorable moments were from the actors surrounding him.  When looking at the rest of Adam Sandler’s best work, e.g. Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy and even Punch-Drunk Love, Sandler is clearly most successful when he steps back to let the rest of the cast handle the majority of the work.  So whether that’s populating his films with funnier people (Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer) or playing it low-key (Big Daddy, Punch-Drunk Love), the movie doesn’t rely exclusively on Sandler’s talents.  We all know the dark place that leads:

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.  2012 Chas gives Billy Madison an A-

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