Happy Gilmore: ‘cheap physical humour’
That endless production line of American comedians that British audiences have never heard of. making films that they'll probably never see. continues with H(l/)/)\' Gilmore. Salim/try Night Live star Adam Sandler's talents appear to be an ability to act dumb and explode into comic moments of petulant l‘ury. skills he combines with surprisingly good results in this film.
Playing a blue collar goll' prodigy. Sandler represents a gauche everyman. storming that bastion of middle-class order and superiority — the goll’club. It could easily be set in this country. and so a great deal of the humour should translate well. This also has to do with the fact that. when in doubt. the script aims for the lowest common denominator. cheap physical humour involving Happy
dissolving into bleep- ridden apoplexy on the putting green. Originally. Happy's ambition was to become an ice-hockey pro. his prime skill being an
, ability to hit the puck with explosive l'orce. Alter his . grandmother's house is
repossessed. he realises he must make some last
; money and. discovering I that he can hit a golf ball
every bit as far as a hockey puck. he sees his chance.
It's all so improbable
that the itnprobability
makes it very predictable - there is only one way for the story to go and the writers unerringly lollovv it. The film has little in
‘ the way of sustained
humour. but Sandler's energy and appeal create
enough momentum to
carry the film over the bunkers and through the rough. (Anwar Brett) Happy (Ii/Inore (l2) (Dennis Drigun. US. [996) xii/uni Sum/lei: Christopher McDonulrl. Julie Bowen. 92 mins. From I-‘ri l‘). (ieneml release.
Bullet In The ilead: ‘among Woo’s very best’
BULLET IN THE HEAD
At first. this has all the elements of John Woo‘s exemplary gangster movies — three young men. testing out their friendship and loyalties. get involved in cross- border stnuggling in the late 60s. Soon. however. the director pushes into new territory — literally. in the shape of the Vietnam War. where they‘re captured and forced to kill or be killed - with the result that Bullet In The
Heml is Woo's most ambitious film. and among his best.
An obvious reference point is The Deer/noner. and Woo’s equivalent to that film's Russian roulette scene is unbearably tense. What's more relevant is the fact that Bullet Ill The Head was made not that long after the Tiananmen Square massacre. giving the film a sharper political context. (Alan Morrison) Bullet In The Heml ( /8) (John Woo, Horn; Kong, I990) Tony Lenny. .luelt'y Clteung. Wuixe Lee. I25 niins. Sun 2l-Tne 23. Edinburgh: Film/rouse.
COMEDY ,THE CABLE GUY
()n-the-up young architect Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick) is going through a difﬁcult patch. He‘s under pressure to close a lucrative contract for his boss. and his girlfriend wants a trial separation. Steven moves into a bachelor pad. intent on being installed in a cosy armchair with some anodyne cable TV -- but the Cable Guy is super- talented. hyperactive. $20 million-a- llick Jim Currey. w hose ideas about home entertainment are anything bttt \L‘lIilIL‘.
(‘arrey 's Cable Guy is a child ol’ television in the extreme — a walking rehash of small and big screen moments — and so wanting in social skills that his only greater need is for a l'riend. The hapless Steven hasn‘t got an outright ‘no‘ in him. and before he knows it. his me is invaded. When he finally tries to call it quits — alter the Cable Guy sets him tip with a hooker to allay his loneliness — things get a little ugly.
In this respect. The Cable (it/y reminds trs of. Rob Lowe and James Spatler in Boil lll/l!!(’ll('(’. It‘s much more zany and not as trusty. but ("arrey's character is every bit as conniving and manipulative. as he sets about using information hi-tech to destroy Steven's career and prospective marriage.
Broderick is excellent as the straight man. and it‘s hard to imagine who else could have an audience cringing the way C arrey does (except. of course. maybe Jerry Lewis twenty years ago). His gaucherie and the Cable Guy‘s incessant spot-the-scenc humour make for very enjoyable. undemanding enter1ainment. lt's slickly. yet unobtrusively delivered by director Ben Stiller. with take-it-or-leave-it commentary on the cable age. (Clo M acl)onald )
Ylll' Cable Guy ( l2) (Ben .S'Iil/er. US. /996) Jim Currey. lilo/their liror/erielt'. Leslie Mann. ()6 wins. l-‘roni l’ri l2. (ieneritl release.
._ K s... w mm
‘Broderick is excellent as the straight man, and it’s hard to imagine who else could have an audience cringing the way Carrey does.’
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Over the decades, the Disney Studio has created enough wide-eyed, twitchy-nosed, fluffy-eared characters to populate a small planet. Sometimes this child-friendly manifesto has robbed the fairy-tale world of its potency, slapping a smile on the darker side of human nature. Recent hits have appealed to adults and offspring alike, but many older audience members may be approaching Oisney’s latest product - an animated version of Victor llugo’s .mammoth slab of French literature, The Hunchback Of Ilofre Dame - with a certain cynicism, expecting a happy little tale that sweetens deformity with bucketloads of cuteness.
it’s a pleasure to discover, therefore, that this 34th animated feature from the llouse of Mouse confidently brings its adult themes - sexual obsession, racism and prejudice - to the fore. “that said, these elements - often presented on screen in dramatically contrasting light and shadow - are pitched at a level that grabs the attention of the grown-ups without scaring the kids, who can still pick up on enough of the simpler moral points to know who’s good, who’s had and who’s providing the giggles.
the story finds young Ouasimodo virtually a prisoner up among the giant bells of medieval Paris’s great cathedral. Orphaned at birth due to the cruelty of the evil Judge Frollo, the hunchback now finds himself bound to this self-righteous hypocrite.‘
The exotic, flamboyant gypsy dancer
Esmeralda lights the passions of both but, while Ouasimodo becomes a friend who selflme aids her in times of trouble, Frollo’s repressed desires manifest themselves as a curse on her race as a whole, and the Judge pledges to burn the gypsies from their ghettos. Only Ouasimodo and the honourable Captain Phoebus can save the day.
Strong vocal performances, stunning cityscapes, a good balance of intimate scenes and carnival spectacle, and songs that have the grandeur of a top West End musical - what we have here is an instant animated classic. It’s a perfectly judged combination of exciting adventure, comedy and romance, all driven forward by a strong story that really does hold important lessons for the 20th century. And with an ending that will genuinely move you to tears, it has more emotional impact than many a live action drama. (Alan Morrison)
The Hunchback Of Ilofre name (P6) (Gary TrousdaIe/lfirk Wise, US, 1996) With fhe voices of Torn Ifulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline. so ruins. From Fri 12. Renata! release.
‘Strong vocal performances, stunning cityscapes, a good balance of intimate scenes and carnival spectacle, and songs that have the grandeur of a top West End musical’
24 The List 12-25 Jul 1996