Remember the old early-'60s TV game show, “Make Me Laugh?” That awful program pitted a series of sourpuss contestants against three comics--of Frankie Fontaine vintage--who were given a few minutes to crack them up. If the contestants kept a straight face, they won prizes. The comedians got nothing, except the privilege of working on national TV for people paid not to laugh.
That’s what “Caddyshack II” (citywide, PG) is like: a huge, multimillion-dollar version of “Make Me Laugh"--with no prizes. On and on they come--Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Jackie Mason, Dyan Cannon, Randy Quaid--all trying to crack us up, all failing miserably. They get desperate. They begin screaming, falling all over themselves, thrashing and mugging like clowns possessed, shrieking and babbling, pulling their pants down.
Dan Aykroyd at one point shoots the audience a quarter-moon and, later, in a total frenzy, drives a poisoned arrow into his buttocks. Randy Quaid puts on an ice-hockey uniform, crawls over a desk and hollers until his face turns red. Chevy Chase starts slamming golf balls around a mansion and smirking at his own forearm.
Jackie Mason puts on electric blue polyester, attacks Dina Merrill with a steamroller and does a tango. The mechanical gopher from the original “Caddyshack” overeats and vomits. And Robert Stack--taking another flyer in farce--dives off his steeplechase horse into a pool of mud, and takes a blast of flatulence full in the face.
It’s like a nightmare: hell in the Catskills--with Henny Youngman as Mephistopheles. (Take this movie . . . Please!)
Has there ever been a worse sequel than this? “Grease II”? “Jaws IV”? “Friday the 13th, Part 6"? Even “Rambo III” has more laughs than “Caddyshack II"--and Stallone wasn’t even trying.
This movie is soooo bad (How bad is it?) that it makes “Caddyshack I” look like “Godfather II.”
It’s hard to figure out what went wrong--beyond the fact that everyone showed up on the set. Perhaps it’s casting. Wasn’t Jackie Mason’s part--a boorish vulgarian millionaire mensch battling bluebloods and divots--originally conceived for “Caddyshack’s” Rodney Dangerfield?
Perhaps it’s the writers; they get no respect either. Harold Ramis--another “Caddyshack” alumnus, like Chase and the gopher--could have written this stuff in his sleep. Maybe he did.
Perhaps it’s direction. Allan Arkush directs the whole movie as if he were wearing a lampshade on his head.
Or maybe it’s fate. Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s that perfect conjunction of elements where everything comes together and goes wrong. (Occasional exceptions that go right: Chase, Quaid and Chynna Phillips in their first scenes.) One thing’s for sure: If we’re lucky--if everyone in this movie is lucky--there won’t ever be a “Caddyshack III.” But, if there is, the gopher deserves script approval.