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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.44%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 2.96%
Total Crap: 7.41%

4 reviews, 111 user ratings

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Billy Madison
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by brianorndorf

"Adam Sandler's warning shot"
4 stars

In 1995, after years in supporting roles and working his way to fame on “Saturday Night Live,” Adam Sandler was ready for his own starring vehicle. His first offering, “Billy Madison,” is many things, often labeled crude, dopey, and obnoxious -- all true. However, the feature is also 100% Sandler, boldly unleashing his specialized sense of humor in a high concept comedy that proudly marches to its own beat. It’s easy to dismiss the picture as unsophisticated twaddle, but doing so misses the point of Sandler’s unique grasp on goofballery, with “Billy Madison” gifting the future superstar his first open field to run around and get dizzy within.

The heir to a lucrative hotel company, twentysomething Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) has pissed away his future by taking the easy road, reveling in his lazy, spoiled behavior, much to chagrin of his father (Darren McGavin). When unscrupulous associate Eric (Bradley Whitford) makes a play for control of the company, Billy protests, promising his father he’ll clean up his act and return to school to acquire a proper education. Spending two weeks in each grade, Billy revisits his educational hell, finding comfort with his new, much younger classmates and crushing out on his elementary school teacher, Ms. Vaughn (Bridgette Wilson).

I’m about to write some very kind words about “Billy Madison,” but it’s coming from a pure place of reaction. This film makes me laugh. It’s not a classically scripted comedy nor technically proficient -- I’m not about to compare the picture to diamonds like “Some Like it Hot” or “Lost in America.” “Billy Madison” is dumb guy entertainment, and it’s awfully agreeable dumb guy entertainment, deploying Sandler’s weirdo ways with a full commitment to absurdity, a trait that would define the comedian’s success until the syrup was tapped in 2006’s “Click.”

Stay cool, dear readers, I’m not lobbying the AFI here. I just want to share some love for a screwy gut-buster that offers something few comedies bother to establish: a fingerprint.

Sandler and his partner-in-crime, screenwriter Tim Herlihy, have a Jedi way with silliness that elevates “Billy Madison” from its gimmicky origins, with the duo fixated on bizarre antics that help to alleviate the crushing simplicity of the plot. There’s no real storytelling going on here, the movie is more of a collection of oddball behavior and random impulses funneled into a PG-13 mainstream comedy. It’s one thing to watch Billy, the quintessential idiot, relive his academic career, reintroduced to childhood responsibility he never quite outgrew, forced to achieve an education and rewire his moron ways to display responsibility, desperate to impress his father. “Billy Madison” contains the basics, but it’s more insistent with mischief. Billy doesn’t just have a maid (a charming Theresa Merritt), he has a full-figure grandmother with obvious (and playful) sexual designs on her young charge. Billy doesn’t merely encounter blast of redemption to push the film into a third-act showdown, instead he commences a brief musical number to explore his newfound determination and need for gum. And when Billy drinks? Well, there’s a manifestation of man-sized penguin there, whose very presence torments the man-child.

The movie is overflowing with peculiarities and throwaway gags. Sandler and Herlihy are eager to stuff material anywhere they can find room for it, providing a bounty of silliness to everyone on the cast, including a grand cameo by Chris Farley, here playing a tightly wound bus driver and deliverer of banana peel doom. The list of oddity here is endless, from Steve Buscemi as a lipstick-wearing outcast Billy used to bully in high school to a moment of assumed clown death. It’s all very ridiculous, but executed in such a gleeful, freewheeling manner, constructing a thrilling sensation of madness that sustains unpredictability and offers Sandler is own inimitable take on big screen funny business.

Sandler would build a more comfortable nest for his sense of humor with 1996’s “Happy Gilmore” and hit pay dirt with 1998’s “The Wedding Singer,” but “Billy Madison” was a victorious launch, establishing the gibberish-speaking comedian as a force of nature unwilling to play by the rules. Sandler went on to create an enormous career for himself, with box office fortunes solidified when he turned his focus to playing dads and boyfriends. However, it’s refreshing to revisit the jester in his screen infancy, when all he wanted was to boogie to a Culture Club hit, carry on conversations with hair care products, and sit on a sprinkler. “Billy Madison” may turn your brain to mush, but there are sustained laughs all the way to the end credits.

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originally posted: 06/11/11 22:35:25
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User Comments

11/22/17 Charles Tatum You gotta be shitting me on this! Seriously? 1 stars
8/30/15 mr.mike I found it to be worth watching on netflix. 3 stars
12/09/12 Simon brainless Sandler but f*ck u it's part of my childhood and i quote it practically weekly 5 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison One of Sandler's best. 4 stars
6/23/11 G. Carm you're right, Mr. Weinberg, if you liked this junk, you're a moron. 1 stars
12/26/09 car i hat you 5 stars
5/27/08 Carol Baker funnny but not very funny. A poor copy of Jerry Lewis 3 stars
3/02/08 SamanthaPayntr it's a classic! so hilarious! get the DVD for the hilarious deleted scenes! 5 stars
1/11/08 Steve Gooler happy gilmore was amazing. Billy madison..much better..thats saying something 5 stars
12/19/07 metal 9 This movie's a work of stupidity for some people, but for my generation- A timeless classic 5 stars
6/22/07 amy n lou this film is soooooooo funi lol "ill turn this damm bus around" haha 5 stars
6/01/07 s. chimp in a critics eyes:it sucks. in the average viewers eyes: watchable 3 stars
4/11/07 ya yer all dumb whoever didn't put 5 stars deserves to die! 5 stars
2/28/07 Beau its a fantastically made movie with good performances but if seen it too much 4 stars
2/12/07 johnnyfog Brad Whitford is a funny-ass villain. Good stuff 4 stars
2/04/07 Teresa really stupid - can't believe it was rated awesome by so many people 1 stars
1/22/07 Nathaniel D. Poyton This fucking movie was the bomb... But Happy Gilmore was better. 5 stars
10/27/06 Henry A movie to be watched over and over. 5 stars
10/27/06 matty mac good film 5 stars
8/28/06 Dan A classic '90s comedy. 5 stars
7/08/06 NS Like always, Adam Sandler is funny. 4 stars
5/24/06 Kcaj It's abovie average. Just... 4 stars
5/02/06 Anthony Feor Funny, if your a pre-pubescent 12 year old 2 stars
4/29/06 sue great 5 stars
3/14/06 Dk Its pretty funny...... 4 stars
12/01/05 The fat McDonalds worker I am hungry for this movie 5 stars
9/17/05 Quialey that movie was fucking HALARIOUS..2 thumbs up.Sandler is 'THE' man!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/11/05 Isaac Its the shit 5 stars
8/01/05 brendon popeyes chicken is funkin awsome 5 stars
7/21/05 Brandy Harrington Adam Sandler sucks. 1 stars
5/31/05 gordo best movie ever made 5 stars
5/17/05 tom haha this movie is so good,never gets old i tell ya! 5 stars
5/05/05 mike macamore awesome, sweet 5 stars
2/02/05 CelticDawn Hilarious 5 stars
1/28/05 Jack Scallops Hysterical. 5 stars
12/26/04 Geo78665 Somehow hilarious. Like a even more bizarre version of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. 4 stars
12/08/04 hewerd honerd excellent 5 stars
11/29/04 Kristina Williams I liked Happy Gilore better, but this is still cute. 4 stars
11/07/04 BeLLa YoU nO i LiKe SnAcK PaCkS wHy dOnT u JsT gIvE Me A sNaCk pAcK 5 stars
10/24/04 Kevin It's soooooooo good to see both kissing and a good relation!!!! 5 stars
6/27/04 P Gilmore wick 1 stars
5/28/04 Seth I find the Humor in Billy Madison to be hilarious. 5 stars
4/23/04 Billy Madison ULTRA VIOLET RAYS BAD........LOTION GOOD! 5 stars
2/12/04 faleh excellent movie 5 stars
1/07/04 Kevin hilarious 5 stars
12/30/03 Cassie Friend this movie is possibly the best movies ive ever seen 5 stars
12/27/03 J Adam Sandler is hilarious and at his most retardest!!! 5 stars
10/26/03 Samuel definetly the funniest Adam Sandler movie, so far..... 5 stars
10/03/03 neena Adam Sandler is hilarious and this movie is the greatest. 5 stars
8/09/03 dado very good movie, sandler was funny in this movie 5 stars
8/07/03 Marc Ian Very funny ! (5 stars) :) 5 stars
5/29/03 Francis A stinker, even if designed that way, is still a stinker - but my daughter liked it. 1 stars
4/15/03 philydside this movie was the shit dogg i love it my fagvorit in the world yo 1 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby Passable. 3 stars
3/27/03 Michelle Wood I think this is the best film ever 5 stars
3/11/03 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Only lead role of the vastly underrated Bridgette Wilson. 5 stars
2/22/03 Jon funny 5 stars
2/21/03 antonio weltch this is a great film 5 stars
2/20/03 Stacey unbelievably funny 5 stars
1/24/03 daniel this movie is hilarious and although stupid....its worth watching if you need to laugh 4 stars
1/15/03 Rae Hymel It was the bomb dot com 5 stars
10/24/02 Glenn This movie is HILARIOUS!!!!! 5 stars
9/02/02 AshFan Funny, but Adam Sandler gets annoying. Chris Farley's the bus driver, though!! 3 stars
6/28/02 The Conscience Objector when you have a dog you have a responsibility... you know the rest 5 stars
6/25/02 Manus Nemo Total and comlete crap, couldn't be worse!!! 1 stars
6/08/02 Film Guy Bags of flaming shit. this is my knid of movie 4 stars
6/02/02 Evil twin Fucking funny 5 stars
3/07/02 Nicole hilarious 5 stars
2/06/02 Aaron best movie ever 5 stars
2/02/02 Rhonda Blankenship Bridgette Wilson's only lead role. WHY must she be so wasted elsewhere? 5 stars
1/24/02 Allysa It was awesome, hilarious, 5 stars
1/17/02 Flick Chick irritatingly stupid. 2 stars
1/05/02 Mr. Hat One of the top funniest fucking movies ever. 5 stars
11/22/01 ferring love that "pen gwin!" oh yeah sandler was good too 5 stars
10/15/01 Mr. Hat Not as funny or bright as it looks. 3 stars
9/21/01 Nate the Great Billy Madison is the best movie ever! If you don't like it then it means you are too old! 5 stars
9/09/01 Gary Watched it sober - unimpressed. Watched it pissed - laughed my arse off. 4 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk I have seen the penguin numerous times...Sandler, make em like this again. 5 stars
6/18/01 DaNaEsHa aKa DaDa If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis! 5 stars
6/07/01 King Jackass "It's poop again!" He called the shit poop! 5 stars
5/31/01 BrainPan Karl!!! Nice to see you!!!! 5 stars
4/23/01 Fred Wilkinson Fantastically hilarious 5 stars
3/22/01 Rehayes Penguin Scenes were the best 5 stars
3/11/01 Shaun Turner awesome, sandler's greatest movie 5 stars
3/08/01 K.Ford I think the Janitor that says "rather have a beer during the milk scene is the best 5 stars
2/15/01 lisa I thankyou! for beating the shit out of me!" almost pissed myself laughing. go penguin! 5 stars
11/14/00 Eric Carr The FUNNIEST movie I have ever seen!!! I even own it 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin full of silliness 2 stars
10/28/00 matt moyer hilarious 5 stars
9/21/00 Bender It's moronic, but god help me its hilarious. 4 stars
9/14/00 Jed Overrated but funny enough to like. SANDLER IS NO GOD COMPREHEND THAT! 3 stars
5/26/00 LoonyGoon From before Sandler learned to not to insult the audience. 1 stars
5/04/00 matt madcap YOU SUCK!!! that movie was awesome baby!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/19/00 Ainsley Atkinson Barrel of laughs! 5 stars
4/16/00 JDC I'm sorry, but watching Sandler peg a bunch of kids in a game of dodge ball is great. 5 stars
3/19/00 Jed Half moronic Half hilarious 3 stars
11/08/99 Hayley This movies kicked ass 5 stars
6/16/99 Kim This movie is SO FUNNY. I luv the part when he tries to make the Z's on the chalk board! 5 stars
3/18/99 Madcap Sandler's juvinile antics can't even keep my 12 year old cousin entertained. Pathetic 1 stars
3/05/99 Angelic Good thing it's cool to pee your pants! 5 stars
2/15/99 Stephen Reinken Absoultely hilarious 5 stars
11/26/98 Jack Aster very funny 5 stars
9/28/98 Brandon B. The Stuff. 5 stars
9/27/98 katherine I like Adam Sandler, he's so halarious. 4 stars
9/24/98 Nate Dogg This is the stupidest movie ever stupid, that it is incredibly hilarious... 5 stars
9/17/98 cheryl_ann they played a styx song in the flick, good call. sandler does his usual comedy. i liked it 3 stars
9/05/98 Badass Good think Sandler well on his first try. 2 stars
8/29/98 Matt Chris Farley doesn't run into stuff -- I like it, he should do that more often 4 stars
8/29/98 Johny I laughed...a lot. Sue me. 5 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Sandler's best film to date. Fucking funny. 4 stars
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  11-Feb-1995 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Aug-2005



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