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

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