By Lydia Geisel
(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.
(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.)
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.