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Film / Happy Gilmore

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"He doesn't play golf — he destroys it."

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 (Adam Sandler), 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 $270,000 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 drive of over four hundred yards. After a remark about how he can make lots of money doing that, he decides to give golfing a shot. Hilarity Ensues.


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. A lot of his most abusive antics are also cut from the theatrical release, likely to accommodate this.
  • Accidental Athlete: Played with. Happy is trying to be an athlete, just at hockey instead of golf. His prowess at golf is a combination of his drive (his hockey power swings) and some luck, but the rest of his game is terrible until given lessons, as a result.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • 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.
    • Advertisement:
    • 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.
    • Mr. Larson is also a strong, intimidating giant who has a heart of gold, kinda like Jaws.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Happy's taunt of "Somebody's closeeeeer!" during the final tournament provokes a brief smile from Shooter.
  • Alliterative Name: Virginia Venit, the second of Adam's fictional "V-name" girlfriends.
  • Analogy Backfire:
    Happy: I'm gonna beat your ass on the course, Shooter!
    Shooter McGavin: [Sneering] Yeah, right! And Grizzly Adams had a beard!
    Lee Trevino: Grizzly Adams did have a beard.
  • Annoying Laugh: The big clown face at the mini-golf course of "you're gonna die, clown!" fame makes one every time it rejects Happy's ball.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "What do you think Grandma wants more: to get her house back, or to see her grandson succeed?"
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • Downplayed; it's mentioned that a golfer can take a drop with a 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 being laid out amazingly like a mini-golf hole). However, Shooter and Happy's lie are treated equally by the association president when they are not under any golf rule set; Shooter has to play his ball off Mr. Larson's foot because it was an errant shot of his own agency. Virtually every US golf association rule set would allow the tower to be cleared from Happy's line of putt, as the obstruction came from fan interference and the golfer can request a movable obstruction that is not part of the course design to be removed. One could also be like Happy and just hit it with brimming confidence anyways.
      • Shooter does ask for a drop for the ball being on someone's shoe but is denied because you have to "play it where it lies". In reality, the ball would have been moved because of the inherent danger of trying to hit a ball off a person's foot- what if he missed?
    • Most professional tours wouldn't allow someone in the audience to constantly belittle and harass a golfer on the tour, as Donald (the "jackass!" guy) does to Happy. Security would probably have tossed Donald out the first time he yelled through Happy's backswing, and Happy would have been allowed to re-hit his ball from the original spot. Ditto the noise-making fans following Shooter around in subsequent events who keep distracting him.
    • Mr. Larson would've been removed after bending Shooter's 9-iron. They sure as hell wouldn't have let him stick around after threatening Shooter towards the very end, either.
    • In the immediate aftermath of being hit by a car, Happy starts hitting the ball all over the place. One shot lands in some nasty rough. Happy attempts to go to his "happy place", only to have Shooter show up in the fantasy, and begin making out with Virginia and Grandma. This angers Happy, who takes five whacks at the ball before finally making contact, and knocking it into the water hazard right in front of him. He somehow loses only one stroke. In real life, all of those hacks at the ball would've counted as strokes since Happy was trying to hit it, then add in a two-stroke penalty for the ball ending up in the water.
    • Commissioner Thompson has the gold jacket on a hanger, ready to present it to Happy as soon as Happy holes the winning putt. In real life, all players must report to the scoring tent, and review and sign their scorecards at the end of each round to make sure they are correct.
  • Badass Boast: On Mr. Larson's shirt: "Guns don't kill people, I kill people."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Played around with Mr. Larson—played by Richard Kiel (aka Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker). When we first meet him, he's brooding and intimidating and beats Happy so bad he's sent to the ER (after Happy had embedded a nail in his head with a fired nail gun). When Happy starts being a pro-golfer, however, he becomes one of Happy's most loyal fans. As his shirt says, guns don't kill people—he does.
    • Happy Gilmore himself is usually soft-speaking and polite, but is quick to rage when he feels when he getting wronged or humiliated, and isn't afraid to fight anyone - even alligators - when enraged enough.
  • Berserk Button: Do not suggest that Happy is as bad at hockey as he is at golf. Bob Barker not only presses that button, he smashes it with a hammer.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Happy has a 400 yard drive, where in real golf a 300 yard drive is considered to be very impressive. Indeed, everyone who sees it for the first time can't believe their eyes, and it quickly becomes part of what makes Happy popular to watch. Lampshaded when Shooter offhandedly says to Larson that it isn't possible.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Happy after Shooter crashes his dream sequence, though it's more angrish than a 'no'.
    • Shooter himself, after he loses the tournament and while getting the absolute stuffing beaten out of him by Mr. Larson and a mob of angry Happy fans after he stole the gold jacket near the end.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Hal, the abusive home orderly who abuses the elderly people living there while putting a nice guy facade in front of Happy.
    • Shooter has a very congenial public image (that doesn't really fool anyone), and is complimentary and polite to Happy when they first meet. Happy doesn't buy it either.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Shooter learns that the "play it where it lies" rule applies for everyone. This is why he has to hit a ball off Mr. Larson's foot.
  • Blatant Lies: Happy claiming Mr Larson only got "a few lucky shots in" in their fight as we see him lying in a hospital bed covered in bandages. Evidently those "lucky shots" were pretty hard.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For all the strong punches Bob Barker lands on Happy, all he has to show for it is a small cut on his forehead after the fight.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with the opening guitar strains of "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Despite Happy's long drive giving him an unbelievable advantage, his short game bites. In the third act, he realizes this and goes to his old golf mentor to learn how to play the short game.
    Happy: (regarding the cheesy Mini Golf course they are practicing at) This is embarrassing, I'm a professional golfer for God's sake...
    Chubbs: No, it's your short game that's embarrassing.
  • Breakout Character: An in-universe example. Happy's amazing drive, in-your-face attitude, and blue collar background make him a hero of the masses, and gives professional golf a boost in popularity that it's never seen before.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • The hockey recruiters, shortly after discussing Happy's strength and anger issues, laugh him off when they reject him.
    • Shooter really should have thought twice before slinging insults at Larson, a guy who was about two heads taller than Shooter was.
  • Butt-Monkey: The towheaded caddy at the invitational is a hapless punching bag for Happy.
  • Casting Gag: Lee Trevino as the silent golfer. He was well known of the PGA Tour for never shutting up.
  • Chased by Angry Natives: 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 Gun: The car driving into the tower after running down Happy. The tower eventually gives way and falls onto the green right before Happy can take his final shot.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Happy's slap shot helps him be an incredible golfer.
    • Also his "toughening up" training by taking shots fired from an automated pitching machine in the batting cage. What happens near the end of the film? He shrugs off getting hit by a car that would put most people in the hospital.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: After Happy fails to make a short putt, he promptly flies into a rage and starts rapidly cursing. His rant is seen on TV in-universe with all of his cursing bleeped out, though the way the dialogue is framed allows some of it to be heard.
    Happy: Piece! Of! Monkey [bleep]!
  • Competition Freak: Happy is an incredibly violent example at the start of the film. Ironically, he only takes golf for the sake of earning some money, only to earn venom from the glory seeking Shooter who feels he is treading on his path to victory. Bob Barker beats the shit out of Happy after costing them a team game, and no, he does not consider a loud heckler throwing him off an excuse.
  • 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.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: In-universe between Happy and Bob Barker.
    Happy: I bet you get a lot of that on Let's Make a Deal.
    Barker: It's The Price Is Right, Happy.
    Happy: (winces) Oh, yeah. Sorry.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • Aside from his 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' training offer and learning on a miniature golf course.
    • It's also the major thing holding Happy's hockey career back. He has a killer slapshot at the cost of being mediocre at every other aspect of the game, as he focuses entirely on becoming tougher without bothering to become a decent skater.
  • Crippling the Competition: Shooter's psychotic and devoted fan hits Happy with a car during the final showdown. The injury doesn't prevent him from competing, but it does eliminate his incredible long shot, forcing Happy to rely more on the skills he's been developing for his short game.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe.
    Lee Trevino: Grizzly Adams did have a beard.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Happy clobbering the coach of the hockey team who cuts him and taunts him at the beginning of the film. Happy manages to knock out two players trying to break up the fight with just one punch each.
    • Happy was evidently on the receiving end of one at the hands of his old boss Mr Larson after accidentally firing a nail into the latter's head.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shooter has his moments:
    Shooter: Where did he finish again? Dead Last? Yeah, he had a good day.
  • Death by Irony: Happy's dad gets killed by his favorite sport.
  • 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" (despite being the one who ended up in the ER) and when they met later, Mr.Larson is one of his fans and beats the crap out of Shooter on Happy's behalf.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happy knocks some people out of windows in anger.
  • Divine Intervention: Allegorical example. Before making his final shot in the climax, Happy pauses briefly and calls on the dearly departed Chubbs to help him - and then makes the best shot of his life.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: On the last day of the professional golf tour, Happy loses his long drive after being hit by a car.
  • Entitled to Have You: Not a romantic/sexual example, but Shooter believes he's entitled to win the Gold Jacket both because he's came close in the past only to choke, and also because he's a lifelong professional golfer whose chances are threatened by an uncouth newcomer like Happy.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Shooter gets one when he first appears. At first he just acts like a jerk to everyone around him, but what clearly establishes him is when he asks his caddie for advice on a shot. the caddie suggests a certain club. Shooter ignores him, asks for a different club, and after making the shot with said club immediately and cheerfully fires his caddie.
    Shooter: Five Iron, huh? Well, you're fired. Bye-bye.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Happy, who is otherwise a jerkass, becomes a gentleman around his grandmother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though Shooter hired Donald to harass Happy until he lost the game, he didn't like how clingy Donald could get with him at times.
  • 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.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: Shooter is obviously a famous and highly respected golfer, but he's always failed to win the Golden Jacket, and he's furious whenever the subject is brought up.
  • 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.
  • Facepalm: A 'pinching the bridge of the nose' variant. During the qualifying event for the tour, Happy's hole-in-one albatross causes Lafferty to do this.
  • Fanservice: Virginia in the Happy Place, in lingerie. Carrying beers!
  • Faux Affably Evil: The retirement home/sweat shop manager is very friendly when Happy is visiting his grandma, but when he's gone...people's backs start hurting.
  • Forgot the Disability: Happy constantly forgets that Chubbs has a prosthetic hand and keeps knocking or pulling it off by accident before apologizing afterwards.
  • From Bad to Worse: Happy watches his grandmother's house get auctioned off. The winner? Shooter McGavin.
  • Funny Afro: Happy inexplicably has one during high school while playing junior hockey. That is the only time we see it.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Gentle Giant: Happy's Boss Mr. Larson is at first shown to be a brooding intimidating guy (but having a nail shot into your head would ruin anyone's good mood), 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.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    IRS Auditor: You hate me, don't you?
    (cut to IRS Auditor being thrown out Grandma's glass front door)
    IRS Auditor: He hates me.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In Happy Gilmore's "Happy Place", Virginia is usually wearing white underwear, but when Shooter invades the dream sequence, her underwear is black. The music also changes from ethereal to heavy metal.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Happy threatens Shooter with it, but Virginia stops Happy before he can.
    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 perceived slights; he ripped off a guy's shirt and punched him out because of a sarcastic remark about his putting skills. He also went berserk at a mini-golf park, attacked Bob Barker, and in general yells at anyone unfortunate to earn his ire.
  • HA HA HA— No: Happy's reaction to the member of the audience chiding him on his putting skills in his first tournament. Happy agrees with the guy until he gets close enough for a sucker punch.
  • Happy Place: Trope Namer. Chubbs tells Happy to relax by going to a place "that's perfect; your own happy place", so the latter can putt without his temper getting the better of him.
  • Hate Sink: Hal, the abusive nursing home caretaker. He mistreats Happy's grandmother by yelling at her to sleep, forcing phone call time limits, and physically implying to hurt her if she mentioned her mistreatment to Happy. Never mind what he does to other residents just for speaking up.
  • 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 will not make this putt, you jackass!" and eventually this leads to him taking out his anger on an unsympathetic Bob Barker.
    • During Happy's first, shaky playoff, a snobby observer won't stop muttering snarky comments as he makes pitiful taps. Eventually Happy slugs him when it's over.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Happy's temper, aggression, and disregard for the well being of others (like the man living in the house at the end of the street) are played for laughs.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Happy acknowledges that he originally only played golf to make money. It's only because of Shooter's constant antagonism that he decides that kicking Shooter's ass is also a worthy goal. Further, if Shooter hadn't enlisted Donald to bring Happy down, Happy likely would have made enough money to buy Grandma's house back and quit the tour before the Gold Jacket championship, leaving it open for Shooter to win.
  • Hollywood New England: Grandma's house is in "Waterbury;" Happy's Boston Bruins gear implies 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 Know What We Can Do" Cut: After Happy is suspended for fighting with Bob Barker, he and Virginia sit down to eat at Subway. While Happy describes the sandwich he's eating, it cuts directly to him in a Subway commercial, having worked out an endorsement deal.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Happy is this when he first meets Shooter by asking where his Gold Jacket is. This a major Berserk Button to him as he believes he should have earned one by now.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: This is what triggers the entire plot; it seems Ms. Gilmore was evading taxes for years, and now owes $270K in back taxes. Raising the money is Happy's biggest motivation in the film.
  • Ironic Echo: A villainous example. Shooter's ball ends up on Larson's foot, but his request for a drop is denied when Doug tells him "the rule says play it as it lies." Moments later, when the damaged tower comes crashing down upon the green between Happy's ball and the hole, Virginia asks Doug about cleaning up the debris before Happy putts. Shooter comes and tells them, "No! He has to hit it now! He has to play the ball as it lies!", citing his own challenge of hitting his ball off Larson's foot.
  • I Want My Beloved 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.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.
    Happy: (laughing) You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
    Shooter (panicked): ...No!
  • Jacob Marley Apparel Happy's final "happy place" is different than the others, and shows a complete inversion where Chubbs is in Heaven, his hand now intact.
  • Jerkass:
    • Hal the abusive orderly, who forces elderly people to work for him and profits off their labor hand over fist. Happy tosses his ass out of a second-story window for this.
    • Shooter McGavin: pro-golfer with a massive ego, sickeningly fake public image of a decent guy, and a Sore Loser to boot!
    • Donald the Heckler. Hired by Shooter to be just that and he succeeds at it, taunting Happy constantly and even trying to run him over. As stated below the most he gets is security chasing after him (and presumably getting into legal trouble off screen) and some burn wounds. At least Happy makes him take a shot he had no chance of doing well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The hockey coaches in the beginning of the film state very valid criticisms of Happy's skills and rightly reject him at the tryouts. Of course, they don't tell him those fundamental flaws and simply laugh at him. It's no surprise that his Hair-Trigger Temper causes him to beat them up.
  • Jerk Jock: Shooter McGavin is obnoxious and arrogant and looks down on Happy for being new. He's like the stereotypical high school jock that went professional. As such he's smug, arrogant, rude, and can't take losing from a never-been hockey player who beat him at his own game.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Happy can be very unpleasant when he lets his temper get the better of him, but he's a Nice Guy when he's not trying to stab someone with a hockey skate or throwing a guy out of a second-story window. He puts his dream of becoming a hockey player on hold in order to play a sport he can't stand, just so he can make enough money that his grandmother doesn't lose her house. He also gets a homeless man a job and criticizes a police officer for trying to arrest him for vagrancy.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Ben Stiller's character (the retirement home orderly) in the theatrical version. In TV and extended DVD versions, the Grandma tells Happy about her mistreatment, and Happy throws the orderly out of a second-story window in retaliation. To downplay this, a lot of his more abusive actions are also cut.
    • Also Joe Flaherty's character Donald, the fan hired by Shooter to annoy Happy ("Jackass!"). Along with being a Jerkass, 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.
  • Kicking My Own Butt: Averted in that he never actually does, but Happy claims he'd do this if he ever saw himself wearing traditional golfing attire.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Shooter when he tries to buy Happy's grandmother's house and suggests that she become his maid and turn Happy's childhood bedroom into his trophy room.
    • The home orderly is constantly exploiting or verbally abusing the residents, one scene of the extended cut however has him ban Happy's grandma's TV as she was watching him play just to be a dick.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Bob Barker's finishing shot on Happy. Now he's had enough...bitch.
  • Laughably Evil: Shooter is one of the funniest comedy villains out there, mostly because of his over-the-top smarminess.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After hiring someone to throw off Happy, Shoot's shot gets thrown off...right onto the foot of Mr. Larson.
  • Loser Protagonist: Happy, at the beginning of the movie. He works in a dead-end job, fails miserably every year at his dream of getting accepted into a professional hockey league, has seemingly no friends, gets no respect from anyone except his grandma, and his girlfriend is leaving him.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Happy and the two removalists don't care much for the man at the end of Happy's street. When Happy's last shot hits the man's wife and knocks her off the second storey and onto the ground, however, they are quick to scarper back inside Mrs. Gilmore's repossessed house.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Chubbs, who dies from a combination of fright and a long fall, and right before the climax too.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    Happy (to his golf ball, after barely missing a putt): You son of a bitch ball — why don't you just go home?! That's your home! Are you too good for your home?! Answer me!
  • Morality Chain: Happy's grandmother is his defining moral point — her being in trouble is what sparks the whole plot off, and Happy rejects anything that will cause her harm in some way.
  • Morality Pet: Happy is surprisingly nice to the homeless guy he picks up to be his caddy. After he wins the tournament, he makes the guy his butler.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: An alligator bit off Chubbs' hand in the past, putting an end to his golf career. Happy manages to avenge him by killing the alligator and gives its head to his mentor as a gift, but the gator gets the last laugh when the sight of it frightens Chubbs so much that he falls out the window to his death.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Happy accidentally kills Chubbs when he presents him with the head of the alligator that ate Chubbs' hand, scaring the old man so much that he backs into an open window and falls to his death.
  • No Badass to His Valet: The homeless guy that Happy enlists as his caddie is completely unafraid of Happy's explosive temper. In one scene, he catches a golf club hurled by Happy at high speed without flinching.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • This is what happens when Happy attacks Bob Barker. Barker lands 17 hits on Happy. Happy lands two, and the first one's a sucker punch.
    • Happens offscreen to Shooter courtesy of an angry mob and a REALLY angry Mr. Larson.
  • No Sympathy:
    • No one overlooking the game pays attention to the very loud and visible heckler distracting Happy during his playoff, especially not Bob Barker, who makes clear he doesn't give a crap about any such excuse and blames their loss on his incompetence, only spearheading the latter to take his frustrations out on him when he won't relent on insults of his own.
    • Shooter gets hit with this at times as well, particularly when Mr. Larson starts heckling and threatening him during play. He outright calls this out when Happy gets hit by a car, insisting he play through or get disqualified, tying the officials' hands there as well. The movie universe seems to follow the "any conditions" rule to it's extremity.
  • 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. To Shooter.
  • Oh, Crap!: Shooter's reaction to Mr. Larson's threat after he has to play it where it 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.
  • One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce: As explained in Reality Is Unrealistic, a golf swing with a running start can work for giving more distance, but would normally destroy one's accuracy. Happy doesn't have that problem with his drives.
  • 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.
    Happy: To Hell with that, I gotta finish up.
  • Only in It for the Money: Subverted. Gilmore will readily tell anyone that will listen that money is his prime motivation for golfing, but is embarrassed to tell people that his real reason is to get his Grandmother's house back and is saving every penny of his winnings to achieve this.
  • Orderlies Are Creeps: Hal is worse than most, actually, threatening and abusing his charges, who are senior citizens. Ironically, while Shooter is The Villain of the story, Hal is more evil by virtue of terrorising people much weaker than he.
  • Place Worse Than Death: The retirement home where Happy leaves his grandmother is a cover for its true purpose; a sweatshop for old people.
  • Prank Date: Shooter tells Happy to meet him on the ninth green at nine o'clock for "a secret of the pros." It's actually when the green's sprinkler's go off.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Bob Barker before retaliating against Happy.
    Barker: I don't want a piece of you. I want the whole THING!
  • Product Placement:
    • The Pepsi logo also shows up several times in the film.
    • In his review of the film, Roger Ebert noted "Diet Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Subway sandwich shops, Budweiser (in bottles, cans, and Bud-dispensing helmets), Michelob, Visa cards, Bell Atlantic, AT&T, Sizzler, Wilson, Golf Digest, the ESPN sports network, and Top-Flite golf balls."
    • Happy gets an endorsement deal with Subway long before Jared made the company famous. In this case it's a fairly well-integrated plot point; Happy needs to make money to pay his Grandma's back taxes, he's an athlete who's been suspended from playing, and his Love Interest works in P.R., making a commercial endorsement deal his most logical option.
  • Prosthetic Limb Reveal: After Happy Gilmore tries hustling golfers at a driving range, Chubbs comes up to him and proposes to coach him at golf. He explains that he was poised for the PGA tour, but he never got a chance to play. Happy thinks it's because he's black, but Chubbs reveals it was because an alligator bit his hand off. He reveals this by showing him his prosthetic hand.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The IRS agent is resigned to the fact that his job makes people think he's evil. When Happy punches him out the front door, he is neither surprised nor angry.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: This actually happens for both Happy and Shooter when Happy gets suspended following the Bob Barker incident. Happy's career isn't over, but he can't earn the money he needs to save his grandma's house immediately. Shooter gets rid of Happy for the time being, but he wanted him permanently off the tour.
  • Prepare to Die: Happy tells the clown face at the miniature golf park, "you're gonna die, clown!" when he successfully gets the golf ball into the clown's mouth but the clown spits it back out.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Happy turns down Chubbs's offer to work on his whole golf game because he desperately needs to get on the tour and make money immediately. However, going onto a pro tour armed with only a 400-foot drive but no real sense for the game leaves him with nothing but ringing up dead-last finishes for a while, as he has no touch for approaches and putting. While with experience he steadily improves enough to even score a top-10 finish before seeking out Chubbs, it's only when Chubbs is able to drill into Happy the importance of an all-around game that Happy can truly pose a challenge to Shooter.
    • The moment Happy gets on the pro tournament, it's clear that some members of the golfing community don't want him there. After Happy starts swearing up a storm because he missed a putt, including attacking a few fans, the president of the tournament wants to kick Happy out immediately. He's only saved by Virginia arguing that Happy's presence will bring the tournament lots of money, though even she admits that "his behavior is completely unacceptable."
    • After changing his behavior and following the rules, Happy ends up getting into a fight with Bob Barker, his partner in a celebrity golf tournament. While the ruling board is lenient because of how much Happy has done for them, he's still suspended for a month and fined $25,000.
    • As a thanks for everything Chubbs has done for him, Happy gifts him the head of the alligator that bit Chubbs' hand off, expecting he'll appreciate Happy getting revenge on his behalf. Instead, Chubbs, like any normal person, is freaked out by the sight of a dead alligator head in a box. So much that he falls out the window to his death.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Happy's golf swing is mocked by several people (and secretly attempted by Shooter), but the ESPN show Sports Science showed that a running start gave Padraig Harrington an extra 30 yards distance. Unfortunately, the same show also showed that a running start destroys any chance at an accurate swing, so it's a trade-off of a little extra power for abysmal accuracy.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Played for Laughs; Happy's caddy is a homeless man he hires (who eats the crackers Happy sets down to mark his ball). After the events of the film, he hires him full time as a butler.
  • Retired Badass: "Chubbs" Peterson, who was a pro league champion before he lost his hand. Even Shooter is a little bit upset at his funeral.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Shooter accidentally does this in one of his Insult Backfires. Less than intimidated, Happy mocks it relentlessly.
  • Rule of Funny: Why is Happy never in deep trouble or arrested for his multiple assaults? Because it's funny!
  • Running Gag: Lee Trevino looking at Happy forlornly and shaking his head. There's a twist on this near the end.
    Shooter: You, beat me, at golf? Yeah right, and Grizzly Adams had a beard.
    Trevino: (interjecting) Grizzly Adams did have a beard.
  • Shared Universe: Happy Gilmore exists in the same continuity as The Waterboy, Joe Dirt, and Little Nicky.
  • Shout-Out: The fictional golf association in the movie has a major tournament that awards a Gold Jacket, as opposed to the real-life Green Jacket awarded at The Masters. This is alluded to when Happy first hears about it, retorting to Chubbs "Gold Jacket, Green Jacket, who gives a shit?"
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: The TV censors can barely keep up with Happy.
  • Slobs vs. 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.
  • Sore Loser: Shooter doesn't take his loss to Happy very well, freaking out and trying to steal his golden jacket. Fortunately, Happy's fans chase him down to give him a well-deserved beating.
  • The Stoic: The homeless guy; even when Happy throws a tantrum and tosses a putter again, the homeless guy catches it without even cocking his head.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • After buying Happy's grandmother's house in the auction, Shooter McGavin offers Happy the house in return for Happy quitting the tour. Happy is about to agree, but Virginia convinces him that his grandmother would rather see Happy succeed than get her house back. Happy comes up with a way to get both and makes the house versus career wager for the Tour Championship.
    • After a tower crashes down on the putting green, blocking Happy's path to the hole, Shooter fully expects Happy to not be able to putt around it efficiently enough to stay even with Shooter's par. 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 putt is controlling his anger and focusing on the putt itself.
    Chubbs: This isn't Hockey; you don't play with raw emotion.
  • This Cannot Be!: Shooter during his Villainous Breakdown, if you can make it out over the crowd cheering and his general shout-iness.
  • 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!")
  • This Is Reality: Subtle, but Larson's comeback to Shooter (saying that reaching the green from his starting position isn't possible) has this aspect to it.
    '''"I beg to differ: Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat no more than an hour ago."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Happy could hit a ball ridiculously long distances, but putting was a challenge for him until the Championship Tour, after training with Chubbs.
    "Happy learned how to putt... uh-oh!"
  • 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 preferred the former ("God, I love it!") to the latter.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • After Shooter told Happy to meet him on the ninth green at 9 (the time the sprinklers come on), Happy just has a large grin on his face, calmly walks off back to the clubhouse, and after being stopped by Virginia, he cheerfully tells her that he is planning on "beat(ing) the living piss out of" Shooter.
    • There's also this gem when the estate agent comes and tells him about the situation regarding his house
    Estate Agent: Mrs. Gilmore owes the IRS $270,000 in taxes. We have to sell the house. And if you cannot get the money together in ninety days, we're going to have to sell the house to someone else. You hate me, don't you?
    Happy: No, no, no, I don't hate you.
    Cut to Estate Agent being thrown out through the patio door
    Estate Agent: He hates me.
    • A deleted scene features Happy calmly telling the nursing home orderly that he knows about the abuse he put Happy's grandma through. After the orderly tries to claim that Happy's grandma is senile, he goes along with it, only to actually throw the orderly out of a second story window.
  • Troll: After Happy becomes a serious threat to Shooter's chances of winning the gold jacket, Shooter hires a guy to stand on the sideline and call Happy a "jackass" repeatedly. It throws off Happy's game so much that he attacks his partner Bob Barker, causing Happy to get suspended.
  • Truth in Television: Fox Sports show Sports Science tested Happy's run up swing with professional Padraig Harrington. He added an average of 30 yards to his drive, but didn't want to use it on tour because it isn't as accurate.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Happy shows up to an upscale social gathering wearing denim jeans, sneakers, and an AC/DC t-shirt.
    Chubbs: By the way, thanks for dressing up.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Happy's entire approach to hockey is beating people up, even trying to stab other players with his own skates.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Happy's minuscule skills at hockey amount to this. He has no skating or puck-handling skills. On the other hand, he beats up other players, has a glass-shattering hockey shot, and his training consists of taking baseballs from a pitching machine to the chest and head without protection.
    • Happy can accurately hit a golf ball 400 yards by adapting his hockey slapshot. His inability to putt (among other things) prevents him from becoming a great golfer. He slowly learns golfing skills over the course of the movie.
    • His fighting ability is this as well. When he goes up against Bob Barker, who is a trained fighter, he can pack a solid punch but he still gets his butt kicked.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Deconstructed. Happy's 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.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Shooter's Establishing Character Moment is him rudely brushing off Virginia (who as a public relations director is hardly low-class herself) and dismissively telling her to go get him a Pepsi. He proceeds to maintain this attitude for the rest of the film, along with being a Jerk Jock.
    Shooter: (to a "working class" crowd of Happy fans, under his breath) Damn you people. Go back to your shanties.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: The IRS agent who takes Grandma Gilmore's house due to unpaid back taxes is simply doing his job. He even points this out when Happy shows up to stop the moving men. Happy throws the IRS agent out of a window anyway. By his reaction, it is heavily suggested this happens to him regularly.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Shooter, when Happy starts recovering, totally losses his composure. He angrily beats up a beach ball someone threw onto the course. After Happy beats him, he goes ballistic, stealing the golden jacket.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Shooter feels that Happy Gilmore's antics are ruining the sport of golf (plus, he also feels that Happy is a threat to his chances of winning a championship).
    • Shooter himself is the genuine article. With all the coverage and fans he has, no one knows (outside of anyone that has to spend more than a few minutes with him) that he's an asshole. Stealing Happy's jacket, however, destroyed his reputation, since Larson and bunch of Happy's fans kicked the crap out of him.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Shooter is undoubtedly the villain, but he does bring up valid points about Happy's unacceptable behavior during tournaments. Manhandling caddies assigned to you when you're a rookie, swearing up a storm on live television because you couldn't putt a ball properly, throwing clubs, and causing a fight with a celebrity should get you ejected permanently from the tour. The crowd also boos Shooter when he breaks a beach ball in the last tournament, but it shouldn't have been there in the first place — and certainly not while he was putting. While firing his caddy for suggesting a 5 iron instead of a wedge to chip a ball on the fringe was a jerk thing to do, his caddy should have known way better than to ever suggest a 5 iron that close to the hole.
    • The IRS agent legally has the right to kick Happy's grandma out of her house since she hadn't paid her taxes in over 20 years.
    • During the finale a tower collapses on the green while Happy is about to sink his final putt and win the tournament. Virginia tries to get the tower moved, but Shooter puts a stop to this by rightfully pointing out that the rules state the ball must be played "as it lies" which is something Shooter himself had to do when his ball came to a rest on the foot of one of Happy's fans earlier in the same game. The referee himself admits that he is unfortunately, correct.
  • The Voiceless: Jack Beard, Verne Lundquist's color commentator. The only sound he makes is humming "I don't know" when Lundquist asks, "Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?"note 
  • When Elders Attack: Happy learns the hard way that Bob Barker is a tough fighter; he gets the shit beaten out of him. He counts as a Real Life Example too; Barker practiced Tang So Doo and was even taught under Chuck Norris at one point.
  • 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.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Shooter believes Happy is a Villain with Good Publicity out to destroy golf and that he himself is the hero that will save it. In reality, Happy is the hero and Shooter is the Jerk Jock.


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