"If only morons like Adam Sandler, then I'm a moron."
Once in a while you'll find yourself liking a movie that you KNOW you should hate. Such is the case with Billy Madison. It's an immature and often amateurish little comedy, but it's easy to forgive these shortcomings when a movie is so endearingly goofy.My first contact with an Adam Sandler comedy didn't start off too well. If you've seen this one, then you know what I mean. It's the penguin gag. It almost soured me on Adam Sandler forever. To those unfamiliar, I'll explain: In the first few minutes of Billy Madison, a drunken Adam Sandler is depicted stumbling around chasing a giant penguin. That's the whole gag right there. I sat there dumbfounded, thinking "If this is comedy, then I'm definitely getting old...because I don't get it." Luckily the penguin gag disappeared, and I was then treated to one of the most gleefully infantile and amusing comedies I'd seen in a while.
Basically, Billy has to re-take all his grade school classes in order to inherit his father's huge corporation. Yeah, I know...it sounds like something the Gilligan's Island writers would have come up with. But the plot is merely a speed bump in Adam Sandler's parking lot. (Great analogy there, huh?) The story is a mere framework on which to hang Sandler's joyously vulgar shtick. I was particularly taken with Billy's huge maid, who constantly propositions him in various disgusting ways.
On hand to spread the manic silliness are tons of Sandler's buddies, including Norm McDonald, Steve Buscemi and the late great Chris Farley. Although he only appears in a few scenes, Farley may have some of the best gags of his short career in this movie. As the slimy villain, Bradley Whitford has a lot of fun with the role, and Darren McGavin is as entertaining as ever as Billy's good-natured Dad.
As Billy once again makes his way through elementary school, he must contend with the requisite rites of passage, such as how to deal with bullies ("O'Doyle rules!") and what to do if you pee your pants. ("Everyone COOL pees their pants!") He even snags himself a cute young teacher for a girlfriend! In the climactic 'game-show' finale, keep an eye (and an ear) on the emcee. What he has to say about his disloyal wife makes for some of the biggest laughs in the film.While Billy Madison could easily be dismissed as 'sophomoric junk', any movie that so obviously KNOWS that it is junk must be measured on its own merits...and those merits are measured in laughs, giggles, snorts and maybe the random 'rolling of the eyes'. It's certainly not a smart movie, but I'd take stupid & funny over smart & boring any day.