What My First R-rated Film Means to Me

By Lydia Geisel

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(Still from Caddyshack, 1980. Suave golfer Ty Web sharing shots with the club’s it-girl, Lacey)

When I was ten years old, I knew little about class differences, gambling, sex, or drinking. Then, Caddyshack changed all of that.

A classic underdog tale with a screwball sports-twist, Caddyshack has enjoyed a unique cult following since its release in 1980. The film is set at an exclusive country club and defined by a collection of oddball characters, like an ambitious summer caddy trying to earn enough money to go to college, an obnoxious guest (played by Rodney Dangerfield) who is as equally destructive as the course’s resident gopher, and an ill-tempered co-founder whose promiscuous niece enjoys stirring the pot.

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(Still from Caddyshack, 1980. The brash Al Czervik stealing the club’s founder’s wife for a dance)

I grew up with only a small collection of movies. Fortunately, this raunchy, and often offensive, film was one of them. While I had no real understanding of golf (and, still don’t), I was captivated and surprised by the mix of childish humor and illicit behavior—something I had never been exposed to before. Like any kid watching their first R-rated film, I had a good sense of who was good and what was bad even though I was of course stumped by many of the dated jokes. (Mike McPadden for VH1 online helps translate the movie’s ins-and-outs for millennials in this article.)  

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Even though there were a lot of moments that escaped me the first time, Caddyshack marked the start of my understanding of everything from drugs to how to kill a woodland creature. 

I write about this experience because I think that most of us share this similar moment as children; the time when we watch a movie we know we shouldn’t be watching and walk away feeling a touch corrupted, but overall, comforted. Today, I feel a strange, yet very personal, connection to this film because it represents the moment that I realized for the first time that adults can be irresponsible, selfish, stupid, delusional, and everything in between.

 

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6 Responses to What My First R-rated Film Means to Me

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Caddyshack was also my first R-rated film! My dad loves this movie and couldn’t wait to show me it when he thought I was old enough. I loved it then and I still love it now. Chevy Chase is hilarious as always and Rodney Dangerfield was perfect for this movie.

    – Cal

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Caddyshack is a great film it was not my first R-rated though. As i grow older i learn to appreciate it more and more. Chevy Chase keeps me going no matter how many times i see the movie i still laugh at the same parts every time. Great film.

    -Dez

  3. mediaphiles says:

    This is such a neat entry! I’m so impressed you remember your first R-rated movie. Growing up with older siblings, I was exposed to mature material at a young age. Of course, I never understood any of it though. I used to sneak into my sister’s room and watch MTV’s Real World and then act out the fight scenes with my Barbies. Today, I can’t believe I ever tolerated arguably the worst reality show. It’s a good thing my mom doesn’t know about that. -Caitlin Herlihy

  4. mediaphiles says:

    Lydia! If only we could see ourselves today and look at some of the rash decisions that we make…if only! I feel the same connection to “Step Brothers”, as that was the first R-rated film that I snuck into! I was livin’ on the edge! It was absolutely a feeling of danger and I am pretty sure that I told my mom at some point- I was a guilty child! I can also say that I have a fondness of Caddy Shack, as I adored the underdog story and the humor that kept me on the edge of my seat! I love how there are so many plots happening at the same time in the film! Thank you!

    Luke Dellorso

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Caddyshack is my father’s favorite movie of all time, so I was also exposed to it at a young age as well. I think it is absolutely hilarious and one of the most quotable movies ever. I probably watch it at least once a year and every time I watch it I notice something new that went completely over my head when I was younger. This is a really interesting post. It is interesting to think about how films have different meanings for people depending on when they see them. The Terminator was my first R-rated film, and I definitely look at it differently because of that.

    -Walker Rise

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve actually never seen this movie all the way through. Of course I too remember my first R-rated films, which were The Patriot and Braveheart. I think I may have a movie to watch this weekend though. I was never really allowed to watch it though due to possible nudity? I’ll just close my eyes.
    -Michael Cyphers

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