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License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations.

Oh Mrs. Crane, you're a little monkey woman.
Yeah, you're lean, mean, and I bet you're not too far in between are ya.
How'd you like to wrap your spikes around my...

I remember going to the theater and seeing the trailer for CADDYSHACK ($25) and thinking to myself that this movie looks hilarious. I also remember going to the movie theater to actually see CADDYSHACK and finding out that the movie truly was hilarious. Well, that was about thirty years ago (boy, am I old), and I’ve seen CADDYSHACK countless times since. Over the years, I subjected myself to lousy TV and cable broadcasts, as well as awful VHS and Laserdisc presentations of the film. However, for the twentieth anniversary of this marvelous lowbrow comedy classic, die hard fans like myself, found themselves rewarded with first quality release of CADDYSHACK… and that was on DVD. Flash forward ten years, we are now in the high definition era, and Warner once again rewards CADDYSHACK fans with an even better Blu-ray release, just in time for this classic’s thirtieth anniversary.

For those of you who have never seen CADDYSHACK, the film’s tagline pretty much sums up the level of sophistication the filmmakers strived for with its tale of the snobs against the slobs. CADDYSHACK is set inside a country club where you don’t have to be insane to be a member… but it certainly helps. Chevy Chase stars as Ty Webb, the son of one of the club’s founders and resident Zen golfer, whose great philosophy in life is to "be the ball." Rodney Dangerfield is a laugh riot as Al Czervik, the crass real estate developer whose carefree party attitude only serves to drive one of the country club’s uptight founders crazy. Ted Knight is utterly perfect as the uptight Judge Smails, who wants nothing more than to permanently rid the club of loudmouth Czervik. Bill Murray virtually steals the movie with his performance as Carl Spackler, the demented assistant greens keeper, who goes on a one-man combat assault against the single gopher that is tearing up the golf course. Murray has the best dialogue in the movie, all of which he ad-libbed… Murray’s lines are so good; I have been quoting them for the last three decades. Even though the movie is called CADDYSHACK and is supposed to be about the caddies at the country club, those characters are pretty much forced into the background by the film’s four great comic performances. The film’s only other truly memorable performance comes from Cindy Morgan, who plays Judge Smails’ seductive niece Lacey Underall. The cast of CADDYSHACK also features Michael O'Keefe, Sarah Holcomb, Scott Colomby, Dan Resin, Henry Wilcoxon, Elaine Aiken, Albert Salmi, Ann Ryerson, Brian Doyle-Murray and Lois Kibbee.

Warner Home Video has made CADDYSHACK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Wow, the 1080p presentation of CADDYSHACK is surprisingly good, although it is a bit uneven. A whole lot of credit goes to an excellent transfer that makes the most of what the film elements can reproduce. Of course, all visual shortcomings are the result of limitations in budget and the production technique available thirty years ago, and not a flaw in this excellent transfer. Unprocessed shots appear very snappy, especially close-ups and medium shots. Long shots appear a bit softer, while any shot that contains an optical effect; a fade or a dissolve appears softer still. Of course, the sequences involving the gopher puppet look the best, which is probably the result of John Dykstra’s effects’ team handling those particular segments. There is plenty of fine detail in the gopher sequences, as well as in the aforementioned unprocessed close-ups. Dimensionality is usually quite good. You can really see just how much the cast was sweating during the very humid Florida location shoot. Color reproduction is very good, with much of the film featuring strong levels of saturation and attractive flesh tones. Blacks are accurate, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is quite good and shadow detail is just fine for an early eighties comedy. The elements from which CADDYSHACK has been transferred appear remarkably clean. Grain is present in the image, but is not excessive.

CADDYSHACK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that CADDYSHACK was originally monaural, this re-mixed track comes across as a very nice upgrade. Sure, this is nowhere near demo quality, but the improvements do enhance the overall presentation. There are very modest channel separations for sound effects, which are nice. However, the lossless encode and the remix is where the track really shines. For the first time, the music on the soundtrack, no longer sounds like it is playing through an AM radio. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Starting things off is Caddyshack: The Inside Story, a new eighty-minute retrospective documentary that features many members of the cast and crew including director Harold Ramis. From the twentieth anniversary release comes Caddyshack: The 19th Hole, a thirty-minute documentary that included then new interviews with Chevy Case, director Harold Ramis, Cindy Morgan. A Theatrical Trailer closes the supplements.

Thirty years down the road, CADDYSHACK is still a wonderful laugh fest. The Blu-ray presentation is surprisingly good and definitely the best this film has ever looked in the home venue. Highly recommended.



Caddyshack [Blu-ray] (1980)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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