Harold Ramis (#110 of 4)

Summer of ‘88: Caddyshack II

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Summer of ‘88: <em>Caddyshack II</em>
Summer of ‘88: <em>Caddyshack II</em>

Given that the majority of this reviewer's lifetime income has been earned hauling golf clubs in the suburbs of Chicago, my giving an opinion about Caddyshack II is like a fisherman talking about the sequels to Steven Spielberg's Jaws, or a boxer the sequels to the Oscar-winning Rocky.

All the nuance and affection for the profession of caddying that made the original's one-liners so honest and funny (like “Hey! Lama! Hey! How 'bout a little something, you know, for the effort?”) is gone. What's left is a floating Baby Ruth of a cinematic abomination that just about everybody from the first film was either ashamed of or absconded from (like Harold Ramis, who wanted his screenwriting credit removed, or Rodney Dangerfield, who backed out of the agreement he'd made to repeat his role as the loudmouthed real estate developer Al Czervik). Instead we have Jackie Mason doing an unfunny impression of Dangerfield, Dan Aykroyd whiffing mightily as he tries to recreate Bill Murray's role from Caddyshack as a Vietnam vet turned golf-course groundskeeper, and Chevy Chase actually back in action as Ty Webb, this time sporting a diamond stud in his left ear.

Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective

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Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective
Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective

For 16 years, Groundhog Day has been hailed as a meditation on self-redemption. But to pigeonhole it into one overarching theme would be an insult to the layered precision, and perfection, of Harold Ramis's 1993 masterpiece, which ventures into the heart of darkness and despair to ultimately emerge unharmed, but not unmarked. This story of a man doomed to relive the same day over and over again is not concerned about tomorrow. A true absurdist triumph, it cares not what the destination might be, for it knows that the pursuit of meaning is itself meaningful whether or not that pursuit is eventually rewarded. Life might very well lack purpose, and it might very well be a struggle. But that doesn't mean you have to be an asshole about it.

A shot of a blue sky (cotton-white clouds floating, lazily, across the screen) opens the film. Every few seconds the shot changes—yet it remains the same. The sky is blue, the clouds as pearly as before and still in their hazy dance, even though they are not the same as the ones from the previous shot. It is a visual metaphor that permeates the rest of the film. That it is intertwined with an otherworldly small town marching band track only adds to the positively Lynchian feel.