Hear Us Out

Happy Gilmore Is Adam Sandler's Best Comedy

On its 25th anniversary, we look back at an early Sandler hit that is not only full of great performances and memorable lines, but also changed the way we enjoy golf.

by | February 16, 2021 | Comments

After finishing up a successful stint on SNL in 1995, Adam Sandler launched head first into a movie career that is still going strong in its third decade. One of the earliest entries in the Sandler catalog is the golf comedy Happy Gilmore, about a wannabe hockey player who finds unexpected success as a professional golfer. And even though it’s just one in a long line of fish-out-of-water comedies that define the early part of Sandler’s big-screen career, the film ultimately changed the face of sports movies — or at the very least, the sport of golf — and has attracted a legion of fans unlike any of this other comedies.

From the unforgettable lines and oft-imitated golf swing to the Mandalorian connection and the introduction of Bob Barker to a new generation, Happy Gilmore remains as relevant as ever. Throw in a soundtrack that seamlessly blends a variety of artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd, House of Pain, Kansas, and of course Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, and then tack on a Star Wars-inspired ending with spirits appearing the sky, and you’ve got yourself one iconic offering.

So go to your happy place, because in honor of the 25th anniversary of Happy Gilmore, we’re breaking down five reasons why this is Adam Sandler’s best movie. Ever.


It Holds Rarified Status as a Fresh Adam Sandler Comedy

Happy Gilmore Poster

(Photo by ©Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

To say Happy Gilmore is Sandler’s first Fresh movie isn’t saying much, considering he was just getting started in the film world after SNL. And even though he has given us a few gems lately — pun intended — Happy Gilmore actually remains just one of a handful of Fresh films over his entire career. When it comes to comedies, Sandler cranked out more in his first 20 years than a first grade Billy Madison can even count, but Happy is joined by only The Wedding Singer, Punch-Drunk Love, and Funny People in the Fresh comedy category, and it’s debatable whether the latter two are even comedies in the first place.


It Is Ridiculously Quotable

One sign of a strong and long-lasting comedy is that a bunch of the jokes live on in popular culture for many years. And while Sandler’s Billy Madison brought plenty in 1995, especially when you’re debating the positive attributes of shampoo and conditioner, Happy Gilmore took it to a whole new level the next year. Whether it’s on the golf course, somewhere else in the world of sports, or in our every day lives, the film has earned a gold jacket in quotable lines.

“Gold jacket, green jacket, who gives a s–t?”

“I eat pieces of s–t like you for breakfast.” “You eat pieces of s–t for breakfast?”

“The price is wrong, bitch.”

“That’s your home! Are you too good for your home?”

“How am I supposed to chip with that going on, Doug?”

“You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up. ”

“Somebody’s closer.”


It Changed the Way People Enjoy Golf

There is no denying that Happy Gilmore, along with the emergence of some guy named Tiger, drove golf into the mainstream in the late ’90s. And while other classic golf films like Caddyshack and Tin Cup have contributed some pretty notable entries to golf culture, no other golf movie has influenced the game quite like Happy and his unorthodox 400-yard golf swing.  In a sport where people are still very much enamored by the long ball, the Happy swing remains one of the most attempted moves on a golf course by people of all skill levels. Sure, it’s mostly done for laughs, but you never know when you might really connect with one. Which is why everyone from kids to adults and pros to hackers love to give it their best shot – running start and all.

Some of the celebratory moves that are teed up throughout Happy Gilmore continue to live on in the world of golf as well. Happy riding his golf club like a horse was famously reprised by PGA Tour pro Boo Weekley during the 2008 Ryder Cup. Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) shooting his ball into the hole with his finger gun is a move all true golfers strive to perfect.

And let’s be honest: if you’re not incorporating Chubbs’ (Carl Weathers) “it’s all in the hips” move when teaching your buddy the basics of the golf swing, you’re doing it wrong.


The Supporting Cast Is Outstanding

Speaking of Weathers, who is currently enjoying a career resurgence in a galaxy far far away with The Mandalorian, he headlines a talented and memorable supporting cast in Happy Gilmore. Known partly for Predator at the time — in which his arms are unceremoniously shot off — the veteran actor provides plenty of laughs in Happy, complete with one of his arms having been replaced by a hilariously too long and easily damaged wooden hand.

Julie Bowen plays Happy’s love interest, Virgina Venit, in what was one of her first film roles. She has, of course, gone on to win multiple Emmys for her role on Modern Family, but her totally-’90s hair and girl next door charm in Happy Gilmore is a nice reminder of her earlier work. You’re welcome for the points at your next trivia night.

There are also a few great cameos from people like Ben Stiller, whose nursing home orderly character will forever instill fear into the hearts of the elderly. And who can forget Kevin Nealon “feeling the flow” as a pro golfer, and longtime Price is Right host Bob Barker with his mean left hook? Speaking of which…


It Features a Fight Scene That Defined a Generation

Could we have kept Barker’s fight scene with Sandler in the supporting cast section of this article? Probably. But this is more than just a fight scene. It’s the fight scene. Not only did it take home the first ever Best Fight award at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards, but it also introduced and endeared Barker to a whole new generation of fans, as ratings for The Price Is Right were reportedly on the rise with college kids after the film’s release. And the legend only grows with stories from set about how Barker wanted to do his own fighting stunts, and how he would only do the role if he won the fight.

And now, to quote the man himself as he delivers a beat down to Happy, “I think you’ve had enough.”


Happy Gilmore was released in theaters on February 16, 1996.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

free movies Rocky king kong franchise werewolf popular foreign concert Apple Star Trek FX on Hulu finale blockbuster Trivia The Academy See It Skip It jurassic park name the review sitcom Mary Poppins Returns gangster comic books Broadway Black History Month Trailer APB dramedy kong Television Critics Association First Look medical drama E! BAFTA PlayStation Animation suspense HBO Max YouTube Premium 2021 Comics on TV WGN adenture Reality Competition toronto politics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comiccon TIFF Biopics cancelled TV series Television Academy Polls and Games cults Legendary crime thriller legend AMC Summer spider-verse target Logo Emmy Nominations blaxploitation TCA 2017 Crunchyroll BET Awards Shondaland toy story The Arrangement south america Mindy Kaling twilight Tumblr golden globe awards independent TCM what to watch animated 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Comic-Con@Home 2021 documentaries Mary poppins Film TV One 20th Century Fox Photos psycho 45 Columbia Pictures Rock Endgame Captain marvel royal family tv talk Fox Searchlight Grammys Music all-time book adaptation anime scorecard Tokyo Olympics Neflix parents Trophy Talk Disney Horror adaptation Cosplay reboot kaiju MTV slashers 2016 dark FXX Cannes DC Comics nbcuniversal Sundance Kids & Family ABC Countdown National Geographic CMT scene in color Toys BBC America WarnerMedia Paramount Network science fiction Apple TV Plus theme song scary new zealand die hard archives renewed TV shows 2015 Lucasfilm golden globes casting king arthur PaleyFest Calendar NBC Sci-Fi The Witch Pacific Islander Creative Arts Emmys History laika Sony Pictures documentary HBO crossover Exclusive Video critic resources hidden camera worst canceled anthology breaking bad USA crime Tomatazos Interview Hallmark ID saw heist movie boxoffice dceu Extras Thanksgiving Martial Arts American Society of Cinematographers harry potter IFC sequel genre Quiz TCA Awards posters comic book movies First Reviews 21st Century Fox DC streaming service indie Chernobyl BET mutant Sundance Now Schedule Tubi mcc cancelled television classics transformers zero dark thirty serial killer remakes Election revenge game show nfl richard e. Grant Year in Review Holiday Arrowverse Marvel ITV Set visit New York Comic Con black high school Classic Film vampires The CW Pride Month discovery critics historical drama new york YA Turner The Walking Dead child's play rt labs critics edition directors sopranos Teen San Diego Comic-Con versus hollywood films SXSW godzilla worst movies teaser dogs facebook Winter TV Alien spinoff chucky Vudu strong female leads Awards Tour movie RT History Turner Classic Movies Discovery Channel criterion mob sag awards TCA sports joker asian-american Baby Yoda 73rd Emmy Awards pirates of the caribbean Mystery superhero Warner Bros. video on demand Marvel Studios Drama marvel comics Bravo VICE CNN VOD USA Network Amazon travel japan Mary Tyler Moore Amazon Studios Holidays Fox News dc Super Bowl AMC Plus Esquire cops venice olympics television FX TruTV unscripted Universal award winner rotten movies we love justice league TV movies OWN ESPN 99% trailers latino Song of Ice and Fire french E3 Fantasy romantic comedy Stephen King 2020 cats dreamworks Acorn TV diversity Comedy Central Heroines 90s hist australia RT21 space festivals Oscars Comic Book spanish series live action deadpool 1990s Image Comics best cancelled TV shows Amazon Prime hispanic heritage month A24 Sneak Peek Superheroes LGBTQ Certified Fresh DC Universe adventure NYCC political drama Family Pop TV Marathons sequels superman Masterpiece GoT Ghostbusters MSNBC telelvision Women's History Month rotten satire obituary zombies 007 TV Land 93rd Oscars Disney streaming service ghosts cancelled Crackle Christmas Musicals nature Apple TV+ Fall TV Hulu dexter Star Wars biopic Walt Disney Pictures Peacock Action rom-coms reviews Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Academy Awards kids black comedy 2019 stop motion spain Funimation Podcast art house halloween tv talk show halloween Mudbound Paramount Plus YouTube Red quibi Epix Amazon Prime Video police drama Black Mirror streaming TLC 71st Emmy Awards streaming movies OneApp DirecTV a nightmare on elm street spider-man scary movies Pet Sematary Disney Plus composers children's TV fresh Awards Film Festival doctor who Brie Larson mission: impossible aliens Superheroe Tarantino cars Nickelodeon based on movie james bond young adult book comic thriller The Walt Disney Company Rocketman Rom-Com YouTube news basketball Netflix Anna Paquin Valentine's Day comics Freeform cooking Lifetime Spectrum Originals psychological thriller Food Network international Watching Series CBS All Access green book Showtime miniseries 4/20 crime drama natural history jamie lee curtis robots dragons Disney Channel docuseries razzies supernatural Comedy fast and furious vs. Avengers Paramount stoner SDCC screen actors guild Nominations Shudder movies A&E ABC Family spy thriller BBC One Spike prank football docudrama ABC Signature Wes Anderson El Rey Infographic President TV hispanic women zombie Ellie Kemper rt labs Box Office rt archives new star wars movies Opinion CBS The Purge Lifetime Christmas movies feel good TV renewals indiana jones Country game of thrones singing competition lord of the rings X-Men Reality Ovation cinemax Sundance TV PBS period drama Britbox Premiere Dates Pixar Hear Us Out CW Seed Netflix Christmas movies 72 Emmy Awards Emmys comedies christmas movies universal monsters monster movies TBS IMDb TV Video Games disaster live event technology Disney+ Disney Plus emmy awards MCU true crime marvel cinematic universe festival Starz cartoon wonder woman NBA Winners aapi screenings elevated horror slasher Dark Horse Comics ViacomCBS canceled TV shows TNT Syfy know your critic debate Cartoon Network Travel Channel VH1 Binge Guide witnail romance Instagram Live biography ratings mockumentary Adult Swim action-comedy BBC Western blockbusters Red Carpet video spanish language social media Elton John TCA Winter 2020 SundanceTV Pirates japanese Hallmark Christmas movies GIFs Musical 2017 GLAAD boxing IFC Films italian Universal Pictures FOX Lionsgate 2018 war Best and Worst LGBT Spring TV Nat Geo Character Guide Marvel Television batman Pop Writers Guild of America 24 frames stand-up comedy binge DGA HBO Go comic book movie