Release Date: February 10, 1995
Director: Tamra Davis
Stars: Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Runtime: 89 min
Tagline: Billy Madison’s going back to school… Way back.
Adam Sandler started his career impressing audiences with such mindless comedies as this film, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer; and then he sort of went downhill eventually(well, around 2010 at least), but I do find comedy in most of his work. Not a lot of his films have a substantial plot, but a lot are quite guilty pleasure. The only films on Rotten Tomatoes that have a ‘certified fresh’ label, are ones that are not of his Happy Madison production company (have you gotten the hint yet, Sandler?) – Reign Over Me, Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People. This one, is my second favourite mindless Adam Sandler comedy.
Billy Madison is a idiotic man-child who thinks he is getting the family hotel company. When Billy finds out that a cruel, unfunny person high up in the corporation, Eric, is going to get the company –and Billy has something to say about that. Billy comes up with this deal with his father; that if he redoes Grades 1 through 12 (two weeks for each grade) in a 24-week period, the family business will be handed down to him. He attempts this with all of his funny shenanigans like putting dog shit in a paper bag and setting it on fire and putting it on Old Man Ted’s porch, and making new relationships in the running.
I’m writing this review after multiple viewings. It is one of the most watchable films on Sandler’s filmography; as it is quite funny, but a little bit of plot would help here too. The ‘Back to school’ song is just always funny, and it’s a pretty good comedy – as some jokes still made me really laugh even after multiple viewings, and a lot of the jokes made me laugh a whole lot when I first watched it.
The story is very, very predictable – but a lot of the material here is memorable. A lot of the characters are hit and miss, as Billy and his two man-child friends are the most likeable, and Chris Farley’s character is fairly funny, also. Some of it feels like it tries a bit too hard to be funny, but a lot of it really is. The jokes are good, as the hits definitely outweigh the misses.
The film most definitely doesn’t deserve its standing harsh status of a mere 16/100 on MetaCritic, though, as it attempts to have a heart – but not an efficient plot, for that matter.
Sandler fans would love this, and maybe more recent fans trying to give him a chance, stick with this one or Happy Gilmore, those are his two finest, as they are films that offer substantial entertainment and that’s why I appreciate them. It’s a good comedy that can make me laugh a lot, but I may have worn it out a bit too much. Watch it if you want to watch a comedy with no substantial plot and a rather predictable story that you could predict how the whole thing plays out from reading its plot on IMDb; but skip it if Sandler rambling in gibberish is not your idea of a good time.