The Finally Screenings: I Just Saw Caddyshack For the First Time | Splitsider
In The Finally Screenings, Alden Ford is watching comedy classics that, because he grew up in a cave in Alaska, he’s never seen before. These are his takes on movies everyone else has seen before.
Caddyshack was okay. Let’s talk about Harold Ramis for a second.
In the last month I’ve seen three classic comedies he’s written, and I’m starting to notice a pattern.
I’m aware that he’s usually listed as one of many writers on these films, but Harold Ramis is a common thread and for the sake of simplicity I’m going to pin most of my analysis of writing on him – if it’s bothering you, just pretend that Ramis represents the direction comedic cinema was going when he was blooming as a writer.
Just as Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey are frozen in Wayne’s World amber at the peak of their careers, the Caddyshack pitch in which the Harold Ramis-quito* is suspended shows him growing, but not matured, as a writer. He’s bordered by the crappier Animal House behind him and the far superior Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day in his future. But it’s as interesting to watch Caddyshack for what Ramis gets wrong as it is for what it gets right.
Because as great as Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day are, it’s fascinating to view them as slight tweaks in a set of formula that Ramis had perfected from the clay of crappier films that no longer work. Phil Connors is a more refined, relatable Peter Venkman, who is a more fleshed-out, sane Carl Spackler, who is a more contextualized, plot-essential Bluto. The concept of Groundhog Day is more thematically poignant than Ghostbusters, which has a more unique and hook-y premise than Caddyshack, which, unlike Animal House, at least has a story. The central love story in Groundhog Day is both integral to the plot and the characters, unlike Ghostbusters where it’s relegated to a B-plot, unlike Caddyshack with its throwaway, directionless love story, which is more than anyone can say about any romantic arc in Animal House. Phil is the quintessential relatable antihero, evolved from the lovable but unrelatable Ghostbusters, evolved from the proto-likeable heroes of Caddyshack, evolved from the primordial ooze of Delta House.
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