Warner Home Video
Cast: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael O'Keefe
Extras: Documentary, Theatrical Trailer
"Caddyshack" marked Harold Ramis' directorial debut, giving him the chance to expand on his comedic talents behind the camera after having been part of the "Second City" ensemble for two years. It turned out to be a stepping stone for the actor/writer/director as it took his career in a new direction, allowing him to reach new heights. Warner Home Video has no prepared an HD-DVD version of the film for us to check out.
"Caddyshack" is a film that mocks snobbery and upper crust attitude by giving viewers a glimpse at what's going on at a local country and golf club. Here you have your rich guys and their wives in various deluded states of conscious making them believe the world revolves around them. On the other hand you have the caddies, college kids who are schlepping the rich guys' golf bags in hopes to earn a good tip or maybe even make a connection that will help them further in life. In between you have various shades of these characters as well as a greenskeeper on a personal vendetta against a gopher. In order to destroy the gopher he doesn't even shy away from using plastic explosives to "clear" the grounds of varmint. (The pun is intended here.)
Hilarious and subversive, "Caddyshack" is very different than current crop teenage comedies in that it undermines established values in a way that is simply outrageous and sublime. From Rodney Dangerfield's character Al Czervik to Chevy Chase's Ty Webb the spectrum could not be wider. On one hand you have the slacker who turned rich and remained a slob at heart, on the other hand you have a rich guy who turned into a complete slacker as a result. In between you have Judge Smails, played wonderfully by Ted Knight in his last movie role, who is simply your perfect stereotype for snobbish rich guys. It comes hardly as a surprise that these three characters don't mingle too well and the result are a series of in-fights that are delicious to observe. The same goes for the caddies, where we have an ambitious Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) pitted against a jock played by Scott colomby. Of course they don't mingle too well either. And then, there is Bill Murray. As greenskeeper Carl Spackler, Murray simply steals the show and represents some of the film's most classic and notorious highlights. Altogether, "Caddyshack" is simply a hoot and highly enjoyable.
Although the film has a bit of a dated look, as evidenced by the clothing, hairdos and the color palette, it comes across nicely on the HD-DVD version. There is a bit of grain evident in some shots but the presentation is free of blemishes, such as scratches or dust marks, making for a stable and clean viewing. Colors are reproduced faithfully, perfectly rendering the film's 80's color palette with really "weird" – not to say tasteless – color clashes and faded tones. Skin tones are always naturally rendered, giving the film a natural look. The 1080p high definition transfer looks great, though "Caddyshack" is probably not something you would consider showcase material. Good level of detail is visible throughout but the film's production design and look do not really go for the tiny details and have a somewhat smooth look most of the time. There are times, however, where the full definition shines through and you get to see details you didn't know where there before.
Black levels are balanced and solid, rendering deep shadows, making sure the picture always has good visual depth. No compression artifacts are visible.
An English Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus audio track is provided on the disc, along with French and Spanish mono tracks. The audio is good, but again, this is simply not the kind of film that lends itself to excessive surround usage or incredible dynamics. Dialogues are nicely integrated and always understandable.
Warner Home Video has included the extras from their 20th Anniversary DVD edition on this release, all of them presented in 480p standard definition encoding. As such you will find here the retrospective documentary "Caddyshack: The 19th Hole", containing outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage as well as retrospective interview footage with Harold Ramis, Chavy Chase and others. It is a great documentary that is a lot of fun to view, especially when you get to hear some of the anecdotes surrounding Ramis' little problems as a first-time director.
Also included is the movie's trailer.
"Caddyshack" is a wonderful romp. A hilarious film that is subversive and vicious, but never in a mean spirit. It combines some of the greatest comedians of the period and brings them together for a film that has long become a comedy classic. The HD-DVD version is clearly a great addition to any HD-DVD collection, but don't expect to suddenly see a super-charged glamour version of the film. It is a bit rough around the edges and exactly that is what the HD-DVD version reproduces – in high definition.