While Caddyshack is widely regarded as the greatest golf movie ever made, this is undoubtedly the second-greatest.Happy Gilmore is the story of — well, Happy Gilmore, a die-hard hockey fan who badly wants to make it in the pro leagues. Unfortunately for him, he gets cut at every tryout due to a considerable lack in skill — a powerful slapshot notwithstanding. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers his grandmother owes over $250,000 in back taxes and is about to lose her home. While her stuff is being repossessed, the two workers challenge Happy to hit golf balls. He does...and much to the workers' (and his own) surprise, discovers he has a 400yd+ drive. After a remark about how he can make lots of money doing that, he decides to give golfing a shot.This is a movie brimming with hilarity from front to back, and regarded as one of Adam Sandler's defining roles. It is also the highest reviewed movie directed by Dennis Dugan, earning a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.
This film provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: In the theatrical release, the buildup about the orderly in the nursing home is all for naught, as he isn't seen ever again after the grandma leaves the home. He doesn't even appear in the scene where she leaves. In TV airings and the special DVD release, however, he gets his comeuppance by being thrown out a window and beaten with purses by old ladies
Accidental Athlete: Played with. Happy is trying to be an athlete, just at hockey instead of golf.
Multiple layers of it in a single short conversation. First, Happy asks Chubbs why a guy his size isn't playing a "real sport" like football or something. (Carl Weathers, who played Chubbs, used to be a pro football player). Chubbs answers the question by claiming that his mother wouldn't let him play anything dangerous. Happy comments that maybe that's a good idea. (Weathers also played Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, who died in the ring during the fourth film). Then, Happy discovers that Chubbs is missing a hand, and in Predator Weathers' character had an arm cut off just before being killed.
The character of Mr. Larson is referred to as 'Frankenstein' at one point. Richard Kiel who plays him was in a Monkees episode as a 'Frankenstein' type creature.
Chased by Angry Natives: Not the tribesman type, but Shooter gets this after losing to Happy then, being the sore loser he is, trying to steal his Golden Jacket...right in front of Happy's fans (who happen to include a particularly enraged Richard Kiel). In this case, he doesn't run fast enough.
Chekhov's Skill: While practicing his putting, Happy becomes very skilled at miniature golf. This skill pays off in the film's climax.
Cool Old Lady: For someone presumably old enough to remember the Great Depression, Grandma Gilmore is surprisingly keen on who Gene Simmons and Brooke Shields are.
Crippling Overspecialization: Aside from his extremely long drive, Happy's golf skills aren't much to talk about. His putting in particular is quite poor, but he ultimately defies this trope by accepting Chubbs' trainning offer and learning on a miniature golf course.
Curb-Stomp Battle: This is what happens when Happy attacks Bob Barker. Barker lands 17 hits on Happy. Happy lands two.
Deconstruction: This movie is a commentary on golfers, their attitudes, and golfing.
Defeat Means Friendship: In the prologue we learn that Happy got into a fight with his boss, Mr.Larson. Happy feels like 'I won the fight' and when they met later, Mr.Larson is one of his fans and beats the crap out of Shooter on Happy's behalf.
Everyman: Virginia argues that Happy is a ratings bonanza for the tour because professional golf needs a "working-class hero" whom ordinary people can look up to.
Evil Plan: An odd example in that the plot's initial conflict, Mrs. Gilmore losing her house, is not the real villain's plan. Instead, that would be Shooter's attempts to kick Happy off the Pro Tour for stealing his thunder.
From Bad to Worse: Happy watches his grandmother's house get auctioned off. The winner? Shooter McGavin.
Even earlier when Chubbs is convincing Happy to try out for the Pro-tour, a kid who watched Happy in the batting cages tries the same thing. It doesn't end well for him.
Gentle Giant / Hidden Depths: Happy's Boss Mr. Larson is at first shown to be a brooding intimidating guy, but when he's calm he is actually a nice guy to those that deserve it and even tells Happy he is proud of him. He also takes a step further in chasing down Shooter when the latter steals Happy's prize golden Jacket.
Variable Mix: The music also changes from ethereal to Heavy Metal.
Gretzky Has the Ball: Semi-averted; they do mention that one can take a drop with a two-stroke penalty, but neither Shooter nor Happy does (Shooter would be hitting a ball off a patron's shoe, and Happy would be putting over a fallen broadcaster's tower that winds up amazingly like a mini-golf hole).
Happy: Yeah, I was just looking for the other half of this bottle, and— oh, here's some! There's some... over there, too.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Happy will fly off the handle at preceived slights; he ripped off a guy's shirt and punched him out because of a sarcastic remark about his putting skills.
Happy Place: Trope Namer. Chubbs tells Happy to relax by going to a place 'that's pefect; your own happy place'.
The Heckler: Shooter hires a guy to harass Happy while he plays because Happy simply does not have the self discipline to ignore him and he promised not to attack other players or the audience. So he is constantly hearing the guy scream "You're not going to make this putt, you jackass!" and eventually this leads to him taking out his anger on Bob Barker.
Hollywood New England: Grandma's house is in Waterbury; Happy's Boston Bruins gear indicates that the movie specifically takes place in Waterbury, Connecticut, the site of Happy's first open.
Hope Spot: Happy earns enough money to buy back Grandma's house, only to learn that it's being sold at auction, where he is outbid by Shooter.
I Want My Grandson To Be Happy: When Happy flounders in the final tournament thanks to Shooter's chiding and is so frustrated that not even his Happy Place can help him, his grandmother breaks him out of it by telling him whether he wins or loses she wants him to be happy. This calms him down enough to focus and make a comeback.
Ben Stiller's character in the theatrical version. In TV versions, there is an added scene where Happy reveals he knows what the orderly did, and throws him out of a window as revenge.
Also Joe Flaherty's character Donald, the fan hired by Shooter to annoy Happy ("Jackass!"). Along with being a Jerk Ass, he also runs into Happy with his car. He's last seen fleeing the golf course with security in pursuit, but we never find out his fate. In a deleted scene before this during the championship game, Happy calls him out on his insults and forces him to take a shot. He fails horribly. Considering a part of him caught on fire briefly any potential burns he suffers that scar him permanently is a good karmic kick.
Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Happy's temper, aggression, and disregard for the well being of others (like the family at the end of the street) is played for laughs.
Kick the Dog: Shooter when he tries to buy Happy's grandmother's house and suggests that she become his maid.
Nothing Can Stop Us Now: This is how Happy feels when he eventually wins enough money to pay off the money his grandma owes the IRS. The next scene shows it auctioned off for more money than Grandma Gilmore owed in taxes.
Oh Crap: Shooter's reaction to Mr. Larson's threat after he has to play it where it lies...off Mr. Larson's foot.
Mr. Larson: That's two thus far, Shooter. Shooter McGavin: Oh, you can count. Good for you. Mr. Larson: And you can count...on me, waiting for you in the parking lot! (crowd "oooo"s in surprise while Shooter runs away, followed by someone in the crowd mockingly calling "Run Shooter!")
Another example between the two:
Mr. Larson: Trying to reach the green from here, Shooter? Shooter McGavin: That's not possible, sir. Mr. Larson: I beg to differ; Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat, no more than an hour ago. Shooter McGavin: Well, MORON...(turns around) good for Happy (sees Larson) Gilm-OHMYGOD!
The look on Shooter's face when Mr. Larson bends his 9-iron is priceless.
Only a Flesh Wound: Happy is hit with a car. The only loss he suffers is his ability to hit the long drive; he quickly shrugs off his injuries and is able to win the tournament.
Doctor: Well, you're a little banged up but no serious injuries. Just keep off your feet for a few days.
Slobs Versus Snobs: The plot is driven by the rivalry between the blue-collar Happy Gilmore and the upper class Shooter McGavin.
Virginia: Golf has been waiting for a player like this: A colorful, emotional, working-class hero.
Small Name, Big Ego: Shooter to a T. He's smug to everyone, especially Happy, about what a great golfer he is. However it's clearly shown that some Gold Jacket champions are more interested in welcoming Happy to his first open than talking to Shooter.
Smug Snake: Shooter McGavin is a great golfer, no doubt about that, but he's not as great as he thinks he is and his ego is fragile.
Take a Third Option: After a tower crashes down on the putting green, blocking Happy's path to the hole, Shooter fully expects Happy to forfeit the tournament. Virginia suggests that he stroke around the crashed tower and get a two-putt to send the contest into overtime. Instead, Happy decides to use the struts of the tower as conduits to the hole in an attempt to win the game right there.
Tame His Anger: The secret to Happy learning how to put is controlling his anger and focusing on the putt itself.
Chubbs: This isn't Hockey; you don't play with raw emotion.
This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: First by Happy to Bob Barker ("The price is wrong, bitch!") then by Bob Barker to Happy ("I think you've had enough...(punts a downed Happy) Now you've had enough...bitch!")
Training from Hell: Happy goes through this twice — first, when he stands in a batting cage and gets pelted with baseballs to toughen himself up, and later he has to learn how to putt at a very gaudy mini-golf course. He prefered the former ("God, I love it!") to the latter.
Troll: "You WILL NOT make this putt, you jackass!"
Unstoppable Rage: You don't want to make Happy mad at you. However this trope is inverted as his rage causes him to lose focus and make his golfing game sloppy. Shooter uses this against him in the duo tournament with Barker which causes their fight. Chubbs helps him to overcome this and then Happy himself does it on his own in the final game.
Who Needs Overtime: Happy elects to take a difficult putt to win the tour championship instead of taking a safe two-putt opportunity to force a playoff.