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Film / Happy Gilmore

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"Happy, face it. You are a golfer."

While Caddyshack is widely regarded as the greatest golf movie ever made, this is undoubtedly the second greatest.

Happy Gilmore is the story of the titular character (Adam Sandler), a die-hard hockey fan who badly wants to make it in the pro leagues. Unfortunately for him, Happy gets cut at every tryout; while he has one heck of a slapshot, his other skills are awful and his temper is even worse. Happy's life doesn't get any better when he learns his grandmother that raised him is losing her home due to owing hundreds of thousands in back taxes to the federal government, forcing Happy to move her into a care facility. While the movers are goofing off with a set of golf clubs and let Happy take a swing, he learns that his power slapshot in the rink translates into a jaw-dropping four hundred yard tee shot on the golf green.

While trying to figure out how to translate this power shot into some quick cash, Happy soon meets retired professional golfer Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), who sees potential in Happy to go pro if he puts in the effort to learn the game. Although Happy initially isn't interested, when Chubbs mentions that there's money to be made from ranking in the tournaments, Happy decides to make a go of it and win enough prize money to buy back his grandmother's house before the bank auctions it off. Hilarity Ensues as Happy brings his wild hockey antics with him to the golf course and becomes an up-and-coming sensation for his standout skill combined with his crude behavior. In the process, he takes a shine to Virginia, a public relations director for the tour, and makes an Arch-Enemy out of Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), one of the top players of the league who isn't keen on letting a foul-mouthed, hot-headed rookie steal his spotlight.

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 Grandma leaves the home. He doesn't even appear in the scene where she leaves. In TV airings and the special DVD release, the orderly 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 long drive (borrowed from his hockey power swings) and some luck, but the rest of his game is terrible until given lessons.
  • 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.
    • The character of Mr. Larson is referred to as 'Frankenstein' at one point. Richard Kiel who plays him was in an episode of The Monkees 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 closer!" during the final tournament provokes a brief smile from Shooter.
  • All There in the Script: Happy's caddy (the homeless man he grabbed off the street) is named Otto. However, he is never referred to as Otto throughout the final film in any way. Seeing as how he has a lot of screen time, viewers will wonder who "Otto" is when he appears near the top of the cast list.
    • This is partially averted, however, because his name is spoken to him in a deleted scene where Happy wakes him up from a nap. However, this scene did not appear in the theatrical release, nor on any home video release until the movie was released on DVD in 2007 and was found in the special features.
  • Alliterative Name: Virginia Venit, the second of Adam's fictional "V-name" girlfriends.
  • An Aesop: Anger is not an excellent way to deal with your problems.
  • 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: Happy is on the receiving end of several of these.
    • Happy attends his hearing after fighting with Bob Barker. Shooter taunts him by asking, "Who won that fight, anyway?"
    • Virginia gives two in quick succession after Shooter buys Happy's grandmother's house at the auction. Happy tells her that he hates golf and that hockey's his sport. Virginia gives him a much needed reality check and asks him, "Oh really? What team did you play for?" Happy can only reply with a simple, "Easy!" Then she asks, "What do you think Grandma wants more: to get her house back, or to see her grandson succeed?" This prompts Happy to make an all-or-nothing bet with Shooter, as he'll either get Grandma's house back and be champion or lose it all.
    • While Chubbs teaches Happy the short game aspects of golf, they come to a hole with a giant clown face. The clown keeps lowering its jaw to block Happy's putt attempts.
      Happy: I hate that clown!
      Chubbs: Easy! If you can't beat the clown, how're you gonna beat Shooter McGavin?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Happy imagines himself going to his Happy Place, he sees his Love Interest Virginia in skimpy lingerie holding two mugs of beer, his grandma winning a ton of money on a slot machine, Chubbs playing the piano singing "We've Only Just Begun", and a dwarf in a cowboy outfit riding a tiny hobby horse.
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • Downplayed; it's mentioned that a golfer can take a drop with a stroke penalty, but neither Shooter nor Happy does this during the final playoff hole (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, while the tower crashing wasn't Happy's fault. 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 and fined 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 the ball, then add in a one-stroke penalty for the ball ending up in the water.
    • Happy wouldn't be allowed to use his customized putter on the tour, as legally putters cannot have a head size any larger than seven inches, a rule set by the USGA. While the dimensions of the putter are never given, its size relative to a golf ball (which is approximately 1.6 inches in diameter) makes it easy to tell that the putter is way too big.
    • 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 before any awards are presented.
  • As Himself: Besides Bob Barker appearing as Happy's Pro-Am partner, Verne Lundquist does the play-by-play for the Tour.
  • Badass Boast: On Mr. Larson's shirt: "Guns don't kill people, I kill people."
  • Bad "Bad Acting": During a commercial for Subway, Happy's acting is very stiff and wooden.
  • Batman Gambit: Shooter's plan to get Happy kicked off the tour relies on Happy's Hair-Trigger Temper going off, using a heckler to antagonize Happy into snapping at somebody. The plan almost works as Shooter intended; Happy does indeed lose his temper at the wrong moment, but Happy is merely suspended instead of kicked off the tour, forcing Shooter to come up with a new plan.
  • 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. This triggers a fight.
  • The Bet: After Happy gets fined and suspended from the PGA, Virginia gets him a sponsorship with Subway, that pays him enough to get his grandma's house back, only for Shooter to buy it under him at the auction. When Happy demands to know what it'll take for him to get the house back, Shooter responds that Happy should quit the PGA right there and there. When Happy reluctantly agrees, Virginia asks him if his grandma wants the house more that she wants him to be happy and successful, and Happy decides to make a bet with Shooter: if Happy wins the next big tournament, he gets the house back and Shooter leaves him alone, but if Shooter wins, Happy will let him keep the house and quit golf for good.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Played 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 and a generally polite guy but still a seven foot tall mountain of a man who can bend a golf club like it's nothing. 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.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Downplayed. Happy has a 400 yard drive, where in real golf a 300 yard drive is usually considered to be great. Indeed, everyone in-universe who sees it for the first time can't believe their eyes, and it quickly becomes part of what makes Happy popular to watch. Shooter offhandedly says to Larson that having such range in one shot isn't possible, yet incidentally, there are golfers that can drive over 400 yards, especially with modern equipment, although it is uncommon. In fact, the Guiness Book of World Records holder set a record of 515 yards in 1974 as a 64 year old. So while it's unlikely that spectators would be in silent awe of Happy's drive, it is very impressive, and coming from an unknown amateur probably contributes to that as well.
  • 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.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Shooter when Happy gets a suspension for fighting with Bob Barker instead of being kicked off the tour.
  • 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. And why Happy has to hit his ball around a radio tower.
  • 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 Happy has to show for it is a small cut on his forehead after the fight.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Chubbs is a bit of an odd fellow, what with keeping the eye of a gator he wrestled in his pocket and taking Happy to a miniature course to teach him to putt, but he knows his stuff on golf.
  • Bond One-Liner: Subverted. During Happy's fight with Bob Barker, Happy seems to have gotten the better of Barker, knocking him to the ground and saying "The price is wrong, bitch!" But Barker recovers quickly, grabs Happy in a chokehold, and beats the stuffing out of him after Happy says the line.
  • 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 is absolutely terrible. 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. After Happy's fight with Bob Barker, Happy's popularity saves him from getting kicked out of the PGA, since the high ratings that Happy brings in nets him a lighter punishment from the PGA's top brass.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • The hockey recruiters, shortly after discussing Happy's strength and anger issues, laugh him off when they reject him. One of them is promptly tackled and punched.
    • Shooter really should have thought twice before slinging insults at Larson, a guy who was about two heads taller than Shooter was and capable of bending a golf club like he would a plastic straw.
  • Butt-Monkey: The towheaded caddy at the invitational is a hapless punching bag for Happy.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Chubbs lost his chance at the PGA after getting his hand bitten off by an alligator.
  • Casting Gag: Lee Trevino as the silent golfer. He was well known of the PGA Tour for never shutting up.
  • Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven: At the end, Abraham Lincoln is shown waving from a cloud with Chubbs and the alligator.
  • Censored for Comedy: Twice, Happy gives out a Cluster F-Bomb on the PGA Tour after missing a shot. Instead of hearing him curse, the film shows the TV broadcast where all of Happy's cursing is censored in-universe, turning it into a Cluster Bleep-Bomb instead.
  • Character Development: Happy gradually learns to tone down his anger and deal with the obnoxious people with witty comebacks.
  • Character Overlap:
  • Chased by Angry Natives: After losing the tour championship, Shooter acts like a Sore Loser and tries to steal Happy's golden jacket... right in front of Happy's fans (who happen to include a particularly enraged Mr. Larson. In this case, Shooter doesn't run fast enough, and gets the stuffing clobbered out of him.
  • 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. Fortunately, it looks exactly like the mini-golf display, allowing Happy to take a perfect shot.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Happy's slap shot helps him be an incredible golfer thanks to his incredible long game.
    • Happy's "toughening up" training consists of 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, though admittedly not without initial trouble with his 400-yard-drive.
  • 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]!
  • Comically Small Bribe: Happy tries to make sure his grandma gets extra good treatment at the home by offering Hal... one dollar. If not for later scenes showing he's running a sweatshop, you'd almost swear that he decided to be a Jerkass towards Grandma Gilmore solely out of spite for the perceived insult.
  • Competition Freak:
    • Happy is an incredibly violent example at the start of the film. Ironically, he only takes up 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.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Had Shooter just left Happy alone, it's likely Happy would've left the tour as soon as he had the money for his grandmother's house and never would've been heard from again. Instead, Shooter's constant antagonizing causes Happy to develop a burning hatred for him and a desire to beat him on the tour.
  • 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 or defender.
  • 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.
  • 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. The opening montage during the credits shows Happy bandaged and bruised in a hospital.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Shooter has his moments:
    Shooter: Yeah, how'd he finish again? Dead last? Yeah, he had a good day.
    • Happy has more moments like this as he grows less and less temperamental.
  • 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 meet later, Mr. Larson is one of his fans and beats the crap out of Shooter on Happy's behalf. Though that might be due to Shooter landing his ball on his foot.
  • Destination Defenestration: Happy knocks some people out of windows in anger. The first one is the IRS agent who repossesses Grandma's house, and the second is the orderly at the nursing home who's been mistreating her.
  • Detrimental Determination: Happy's insistence on trying to become a hockey player when he is fitter for golf is a flaw that holds him back from his true potential, and its when he finally lets go of hockey that his life improves.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Shooter would have had a fairer chance at winning the Gold Jacket had he just let Happy play golf. Instead, Shooter pays a guy to heckle Happy to trigger his Berserk Button in a Batman Gambit to get him kicked out, and then buys Grandma's house to blackmail him into quitting the tournament, all because Shooter hates how a newbie is upsetting his year. Had Shooter not been so antagonistic, Happy would have likely gotten enough money to buy Grandma's house back, quit the tournament, and left the title wide open for Shooter.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • After Happy is subject to a hazing prank by Shooter and a few others, resulting in him being drenched when the timed sprinklers turn on, his first thought to is to find Shooter and beat the snot out of him.
    • Shooter himself gets tons: for upturning the high class demographic of golf he proceeds to make Happy's life hell, including buying Happy's grandmother's house in a tax lien auction.
  • 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. This forces him to rely on the skills he learned about his short game.
  • Entitled to Have You: 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, even though said caddie is clearly visible when Shooter makes the winning putt a few holes later.
    Shooter: Five Iron, huh? Well, you're fired. Bye-bye.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Happy becomes a perfect gentleman around his grandmother. It turns the man who is otherwise a jerkass into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold because of the lengths he goes to in order to make his grandmother proud of him, including going through the annoyances of the PGA tournament.
  • 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. Shooter also seemed horrified that Donald hit Happy with his car, then drove into a bunch of people. Heckling Happy into screwing up his game is one thing, attempting vehicular manslaughter is another.
  • 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. She turns out to be right when ratings for the PGA go up, they start getting new sponsors, and attendance at golf games goes through the roof.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Happy's back is against the wall with Shooter buying Grandma's house and trying to blackmail Happy into quitting the tour, Virginia intervenes. While Virginia does want Happy to get his grandma's house back, she draws the line at him going that far with self-sacrifice just to do it. She asks Happy an Armor-Piercing Question if his grandmother would be happy about him giving up everything he's done for her, which convinces Happy to Take a Third Option.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: In-universe, Shooter is a famous and highly-respected golfer, but he's always failed to win the Golden Jacket that comes with being a PGA Tour Champion, and he's furious whenever the subject is brought up. The reason Shooter gets so mad about Happy in particular is that Shooter is a lifelong golfer while Happy is a newbie and a "sideshow clown" that Shooter feels is a threat. This attitude eventually makes Happy so angry that he changes his reason for being in the tournament from "save Grandma's house" to "kick Shooter's ass".
  • 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 beer!
  • Failure Montage: After Happy is hit by a car, the film cuts to several scenes of him failing miserably as his score rapidly drops.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Happy's is his Hair-Trigger Temper and tendency to hold grudges. They give him some strong determination, but it also means that he can fly off the handle and make an already bad situation even worse. This almost gets Happy kicked off the pro tour as soon as he gets on; he's only saved by Virginia arguing on his behalf, and even she admits that Happy's behavior is "completely unacceptable" before getting him to tone it down. Shooter even invokes a Batman Gambit to make Happy fly off the handle at exactly the wrong moment, getting Happy suspended right when he was about to earn enough money to buy his grandmother's house back.
    • Shooter's is envy. He can't stand someone like Happy being better than him, and so he tries to sabotage him any chance he gets. He is also quick to put down total strangers, earning him the wrath of Mr. Larson. In the climax, he commits the very serious faux pas of stealing Happy's jacket, which gets him a bad beating from Larson and Happy's fans.
  • 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.
  • Fisticuff-Provoking Comment: After the heckler causes Happy to get distracted and miss his shots, he and Bob Barker drop to the last place in the celebrity-partner golf tournament, and as they're trying to finish the game, Bob keeps insulting Happy's abilities as a golfer, which Happy tries to ignore, but when Bob tells Happy that he is as bad a golfer as he was a hockey player, Happy punches Bob. Their epic fist fight ends with Happy getting his ass kicked by the much older Bob Barker, and Happy also gets fined and suspended by the PGA for several tournaments.
  • Foil: Happy and Shooter are this:
    • Happy is, outwardly, an ill-tempered Jerkass who alienates people. But he's, at his core, a friendly working-class guy who sacrifices everything to keep his grandma from losing her home.
    • Shooter is, outwardly, a polite and professional golfer. But he's, at his core, an egotistical bastard who only cares about himself, and who hurts Happy out of pure envy.
  • Following in Relative's Footsteps: Sort of. In a deleted scene it's revealed that Virginia's late father was a pro golfer, and her love for him inspired her to pursue a career working for the pro tour.
  • Forgot the Disability: Happy constantly forgets that Chubbs has a prosthetic hand and keeps knocking or pulling it off by accident before apologizing afterwards.
  • Friendless Background:
    • Growing up with his grandma, Happy never has any friends due to his short temper.
    • The heckler Shooter hires is also implied to be friendless. He desperately begs Shooter to join him for lunch and despondently eats alone.
  • From Bad to Worse: Happy watches his grandmother's house get auctioned off, just when he thought he had enough money to buy it back. The winner? Shooter McGavin.
  • From Zero to Hero: The eponymous character is a wannabe hockey player who gains fame and recognition for becoming a working class champion for golf.
  • 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'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 admits in the opening narration that after his dad died, he developed a "short fuse". As such, Happy will fly off the handle at any perceived slight. He ripped off a guy's shirt and punched him out because of a sarcastic remark about his putting skills, went berserk at a mini-golf park obstacle, attacked Bob Barker, and in general yells at anyone unfortunate to earn his ire. Sadly for Happy, his quick temper is his Fatal Flaw. While channeling his anger allows Happy to have some truly incredible drive and determination, it also gets him in all kinds of trouble with the PGA after his bad attitude starts to become a liability for the sport of golf. Shooter even pulls a Batman Gambit by getting Happy so worked up that he has a fight with Bob Barker, causing Happy to get suspended from the PGA tour.
  • 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 Bystander: After Happy sinks the winning shot, Shooter in Villainous Breakdown mode steals the Golden Jacket. Happy notices and Larson says he's on it. Cue one angry mob of Happy Gilmore fans rescuing the jacket, and delivering some comeuppance to Shooter.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Second Wind: After getting with a car, Happy's temper returns, he can't do his slapshot, and the lead is blown. But after his grandma gives him some comfort, and a brief return to his Happy Place, he regains ground.
  • 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.
  • Homage: Happy taking Virginia to a deserted ice rink is a direct lift from the date in Rocky right down to the attendant being a fan.
  • Hope Spot: Happy earns enough money to buy back Grandma's house, only to learn that it's being sold at auction. And then Shooter outbids Happy on the house anyways.
  • "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, with Happy believing that his only chance to get Grandma's house back is now gone. While Happy describes the sandwich he's eating, Virginia smirks. Cut directly to Happy 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.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Happy gets his ass whupped time after time in this film, from Mr. Larson putting him in the hospital to half the hockey team tryout members beating on him to Bob Barker jabbing him into unconsciousness to the heckler hitting him with a car, but he's always good as new a couple scenes later.
  • 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, Grandma breaks him out of it by telling him whether he wins or loses, she wants what's best for him. Her house is just a house; she cares more about him, and always will. This calms Happy down enough to re-enter his Happy Place for real, regain his 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:
    • Chubbs minces no words that Happy's short game is embarrassing, and that he really needs to shape up his attitude. However much Happy wants to deny that he needs him, this eventually does get through to Happy, who admits that Chubbs has a point about how much he's letting his anger control him. After almost losing everything, Happy goes back to Chubbs and admits Chubbs was right; it's only then that Chubbs agrees to help Happy master the short game.
    • Shooter says that Happy is a "disgrace to the game" of golf, and that the people he's bringing in as his fans are becoming a distraction. Tour president Doug agrees with Shooter's argument, but says that since Happy stopped breaking the rules and is bringing the tour lots of money, there's nothing Doug can do to punish him.
  • 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.
    • Played with in Happy's case. He starts out as a downplayed example, mainly because his hockey career is going nowhere. By the end of the film, he's gained a mutual respect for golf and has become a subversion. Plus he is almost always genial toward his fans.
  • 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, on top of the fact that he'll likely be arrested for assaulting Happy.
  • 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. That goes beyond sportsman-like trash-talk and into petty nastiness.
    • While 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.
  • Lame Comeback: Features this example, coupled with Insult Backfire.
    Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.
    Happy: [laughing] You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
    Shooter [panicked]: ...No!
  • Laughably Evil: Shooter is one of the funniest comedy villains out there, mostly because of his over-the-top smarminess.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Twice over for Shooter McGavin in the Tour Championship.
    • After hiring someone to throw off Happy, Shooter's shot gets thrown off... right onto the foot of Mr. Larson.
    • He ends up losing the tournament overall to the one person he antagonized the most. And after stealing Happy's gold jacket, a group of angry Happy Gilmore fans chase after Shooter, led by Mr. Larson.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Zigzagged. Happy's slapshot is an excellent asset for playing golf, but he lacks the ability to put due to inexperience and his thin skin. One he works on the latter, he proves to be an excellent golfer.
  • Literalist Snarking: Shooter's aforementioned Insult Backfire is an exploitation of the idiom he used.
  • 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.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Happy must have Charles Atlas Superpower from voluntarily subjecting himself to 90mph fastballs in order to toughen up because there is no way he could still play after being hit-and-run by a Volkswagen
    • Mr. Larson survives a nail fired from a nailgun getting lodged in his head despite his hardhat, which when it happens in Real Life is usually a medical emergency.
    • The IRS Agent gets thrown through a door and roll down a set of stairs and gets up without a hassle.
  • 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 story and onto the ground, however, they are quick to scarper back inside Mrs. Gilmore's repossessed house.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Happy mentions having two records in his junior hockey league: most time spent in the penalty box and being the only person to attempt to stab someone with a skate.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Chubbs mentors Happy in golfing at the beginning and end of the film, and he dies from a combination of fright and a long fall, and right before the climax too.
  • Metaphorgotten: When his partner in his first tournament tells Happy to imagine that he's sending the golf ball home, Happy does, but putts slightly too weak and misses. Cue Happy getting on all fours and screaming at the golf ball about going home, then laying into everyone with a Cluster F-Bomb.
    Happy: 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! Suck my white ass, ball!
  • Morality Chain: Happy's grandmother is his defining moral point — her being in trouble with money is what sparks Happy to enter golf tournaments in the first place, and Happy reacts violently to Shooter becoming a threat to Grandma getting her house back.
  • Morality Pet: Happy is surprisingly nice to the homeless guy he picks up to be his caddy, thus showing that he can be a Nice Guy to people who don't set off his temper with insults.
  • 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 then he 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had Shooter simply let Happy go about his business and earn some more prize money, Happy probably would have quit the tournament, "no regrets", as soon as he got enough cash to buy back his grandmother's house. But instead, Shooter pulls a Batman Gambit that not only focuses Happy's determination more clear than ever, but also causes Shooter to lose the gold jacket after he makes an all-or-nothing bet with Happy.
  • Nice to the Waiter: For all his flaws, Happy is no elitist: he tips a squeegee man working on his car and hires the guy to be his caddy. Shooter, meanwhile, fires a caddy over a petty mistake.
  • 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:
    • During the intro. montage, Happy says that when he was working in construction, he accidentally nailed, literally, Mr. Larson with trick shot of his nail gun. The scene shifts to Happy bandaged and lying on a hospital bed saying that although Mr. Larson: "landed a few lucky hits, I still think I won the fight."
    • This is what happens when Happy attacks Bob Barker. Barker lands seventeen 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 Name Given: Happy's grandmother never has her first name mentioned throughout the entire film. She's either referred to as "Mrs. Gilmore" or just "Grandma".
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-universe example. Happy is suspended for fighting with Bob Barker instead of getting removed from the tour. The ruling board makes this decision based on the huge ratings Happy is giving the PGA.
  • 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.
    • After getting suspended, Happy brings up to Mr. Thompson that his grandma will lose his home if he can't play. Thompson, fed up with Happy's antics, tells him to Get Out! of his office.
  • 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, and to Shooter.
  • 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.
  • One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce: A golf swing with a running start would give a golfer more distance with their shots, but would normally destroy accuracy. Happy doesn't have that problem with his golf swings.
  • 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: Zigzagged. Happy will readily tell anyone that will listen that money is his prime motivation for joining the PGA tour. Even after Shooter's antagonistic behavior adds "kick Shooter's ass" to Happy's list of reasons to stay on the tour, Happy's primary motivation remains earning as much money as he can. All of this is true, but Happy leaves out the reason he wants the money is to get his grandmother's house back, not just for the sake of the money itself.
  • 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 terrorizing 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-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • Bob Barker before retaliating against Happy.
    Barker: I don't want a piece of you. I want the whole THING!
    • Later from Happy, himself, after seeing Chubbs singing "We've Only Just Begun" in his happy place.
    Happy: It ain't over yet, McGavin. The way I see it, we've only just begun.
  • 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. Happy proceeds to smash the clown's red nose off in frustration.
  • Product Placement: Of course, Adam Sandler is famous for this after all.
    • 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, Red Lobster, Wilson, Golf Digest, the ESPN sports network, and Top-Flite golf balls."
    • Happy gets an endorsement deal with Subway in-universe. The plot justifies it in that Happy needs to quickly 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 best option to net him enough money to get Grandma's house in time.
  • 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 Shooter wanted him permanently off the tour.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Happy was raised by his grandmother after his dad died and his mom moved to Egypt.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Doug Thompson, the golfing president, is exasperated with Happy's antics and comes close to kicking him off the tour several times, even suspending him after the fight with Bob Barker. He does give Happy numerous chances to shape up and gregariously presents him with the golden jacket when he wins.
  • 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).
  • 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, destruction of property, or general bad behavior? 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.
    • Happy requests at the end of his first tournament that he get a Giant Novelty Check of his earnings (as last place) just like the winner. Not only does he get his check, but he gets one from every other tournament from here on in, to the point where his car is full of them.
  • 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?"
    • The ending where Happy sees the ghosts of Chubbs, the alligator who took Chubbs' hand, and Abraham Lincoln looking on in approval, spoofs the ending of Return of the Jedi.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Virginia at first sees Happy as an investment for the golfing tournament to bring in new fans. Then she finds out that Happy is doing the tour to save his grandmother's house, and learns how much he cares. Virginia encourages Happy not to give up his golfing career for Grandma Gilmore and find another way to save her house.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Happy swears way more than anyone else in the film. The TV censors can barely keep up with Happy when he unleashes a Cluster F-Bomb after missing a swing, then again after missing a crucial putt.
  • 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.
  • Snooty Sports: This is why Happy's Love Interest Virginia (an advertisement executive for the PGA) asks the chairman to not kick out Happy after he is determined to be too obscene and angry for broadcast: because Gilmore is a Working-Class Hero (Virginia even uses this exact term), audience ratings and sponsorship offers are going through the roof because people who dismiss golf as a "snob" time slot are tuning in. The chairman relents but asks Virginia to convince Gilmore to tone down his anger or he will be kicked out (a decision Shooter McGavin exploits later).
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Mr. Larson can be seen as this. While he never really uses foul language juxtaposed to his refined language, he is a large man capable of being a brute in contrast to his eloquence.
    [after Shooter makes 2 shots and is trying for his third]
    Mr. Larson: That's two thus far, Shooter.
    Shooter: Oh, you can count. Good for you.
    Mr. Larson: And you can count... on me waiting for you in the parking lot!

    Mr. Larson: Is this your ball? [gives Shooter a searing Death Glare]
    Shooter: [meekly] Yes.
    Mr. Larson: It struck my foot.
  • 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.
    • In a physical example, Mr. Larsen has been going about his business with a nail lodged in his skull for at least several months (although it "comes out next week") and is able to tolerate the pain of having a golf ball hit his foot hard.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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 Happy with nothing but dead-last finishes for a while. While Happy steadily improves enough to 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 tour don't want him there. After Happy starts swearing up a storm because he missed a putt and attacks 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" and has to have Happy curb the worst of his attitude.
    • 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, they still fine him $25,000 and suspend him for a month. Roughing up a caddy is one thing; a high-profile scandal involving a celebrity (and an aging one at that) is quite another.
  • 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. Shooter even tries in desperation to say that the shot must not have counted to the tour president, but it falls on deaf ears. Shooter resorts to just outright stealing the jacket, but this gets him chased by Happy's fans and pummeled.
  • 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:
    • Defied. Happy stands in a batting cage and gets pelted with baseballs to toughen himself up for the next hockey tryout. Chubbs pulls the plug on the pitching machine.
    • Later, Chubbs teaches Happy how to putt at a very gaudy mini-golf course
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • After Shooter told Happy to meet him on the ninth green at 9 o'clock (the time the sprinklers come on), Happy just has a large grin on his face, calmly walks off back to the clubhouse, and cheerfully telling Virginia that he is planning to "beat 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: Sports Science tested Happy's run-up swing with professional golfer Padraig Harrington. During the test, Harrington added an average of thirty yards to his drive, but his accuracy plummeted so badly that Harrington said that the technique simply isn't viable. Happy, meanwhile, doesn't have the accuracy problem in the movie.
  • 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, once even trying to stab another player with his own skate.
  • 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: When Happy starts recovering in the final leg of the tour, Shooter totally losses his composure. He angrily beats up a beach ball someone threw onto the course, and even his golf game is affected, making several critical mistakes that allow Happy to catch up. After Happy beats him and wins the tournament, Shooter goes ballistic, stealing the Golden Jacket and running off with it, all while claiming it was his. However, this Sore Loser behavior gets Shooter pummeled off-screen by Happy's fans.
  • 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 are all offenses that should get you ejected permanently from the PGA. 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. Most of the other characters associated with the PGA (including Virginia, Happy's Love Interest) agree with Shooter's overall point as well: Virginia manages to convince Happy to rein it in for the sake of staying on the tour, and tour president Doug says that while Happy may be a "disgrace" to the game, he's bringing in so much money for the sport that Doug won't do anything unless Happy breaks the rules again.
    • 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.
  • Would Harm a Senior: Happy has no qualms about punching Bob Barker in the face for needling him. This turns out to be a bad move, as Barker gets right back up and gives Happy a beatdown.
  • 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.
  • Wrong Line of Work: As a hockey super fan, Happy always dreamed of being a hockey player, and every year tries out for a team but never gets picked because he can barely skate and doesn't play very well, with the only thing going for him is a powerful swing shot, which translates to hitting a golf ball over three hundred yards every time. When he goes to the golf range to hustle people for a few bucks, Chubbs enters him in a local tournament to hone his golfing skills. When he wins, he qualifies to enter a professional tournament, where he meets Virgina, who teaches him to control his temper if he wants to stick around long enough to pay back his grandma's back taxes and get the house back. However, despite telling Chubbs and Virginia that he was only playing for the price money, as the tournament progresses, Happy eventually discovers that they were right: he's a golfer not a hockey player.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: This is the point of Chubbs taking Happy to practice at a minigolf course. With your short game, you need accuracy more than strength, and the ability to send the ball where you want it to go. He tells Happy to relax, find his happy place, and then take the shot. Eventually, Happy loosens up and is able to improve in one night.


Video Example(s):


"Pieces of $h!t for Breakfast"

Shooter McGavin tries to intimidate/insult Happy Gilmore when challenged at golf, but it doesn't work (if anything, it works against him).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThreatBackfire

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