Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Billy Madison

Billy Madison (1995)
Directed by: Tamra Davis
Written by: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bridgette Wilson, Bradley Whitford, Norm MacDonald
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hello readership! Since I wrote last I've had significant growth in readership thanks to the creation of the new Facebook page and Twitter account representing the Archives Report! I've been really excited to continue writing lately, and now that I've gotten some vacation time, I have more time to contribute, and of course, to watch more films.

First up was Billy Madison. Everyone gets in the mood now and then to watch ridiculous silliness. For me, of course, it happens more often than it should, probably. 

I came across a copy of this several years ago (in my college, prime movie watching days) in the Wal-Mart $5 bin, and it has served me well. If you have never seen this film, you are missing out on some classic Sandler comedy. Let's begin, shall we?


Billy Madison (Adam Sandler; Grown-Ups) is the son of an extremely wealthy hotel mogul, Brian Madison (Darren McGavin; A Christmas Story) but has done nothing with his life. Then, Billy finds out that Brian plans to leave the company to young executive Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford; The West Wing) instead of him. Billy and his father strike a deal, and if Billy can complete the core requirements of each grade in two weeks (1-12), his father will leave the company to him instead (regrettably, having paid off his teachers the first time through). Billy then embarks on a quest to prove he isn't stupid, and ends up finding a lot more.

Thoughts (Part 1):

For those of you who are new readers, I write like I speak (so I'm aware of my comma splices, run on sentences and overuse of the parentheses) and I also tend to write mostly positive reviews. I'm starting with the parts I didn't like today because, well, there wasn't much.

To preface, I am a huge Adam Sandler fan, and especially of his older movies. I think they're unique, funny, and all-around fun. One of things I didn't like about Billy Madison was Tamra Davis' direction. She hasn't done much other work that I've seen, but I felt like she tried to force some of the comedic moments. Adam Sandler is known for being over the top and slightly ridiculous, but the director didn't harness it well at all. At times, the overgrown child motif worked for the movie, and made it loveable, but in the scenes when Sandler's character was supposed to be drunk, it felt like he was trying too hard, and (had I been watching it for the first time) I would have the impression that Sandler didn't know what it was like to be drunk.

Thoughts (Part 2):

What I liked about this movie goes beyond finding it funny. While, yes, I DO find it funny, I also became a Sandler fan because (unlike some/most comedies of today), because his films often carry a deeper message.

First off, I really enjoyed the well crafted comic moments, like the academic decathlon. Sandler and the rest of the cast have obvious comedic talent, and in those scenes, it shows.

Second, I love the minor roles by comedic celebrities, like Chris Farley (Tommy Boy) as the bus driver and the "Adam Sandler repertory company" recurring player Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), as former picked-on high schooler Danny McGrath, to whom Madison called and apologized to for bullying on the first time through high school.

Third and finally, I love this film because of the message. It emphasizes the importance of education, of treating other human beings with respect (regardless of their high school social status), and finding your purpose in life (which I truly believe everyone has). Sandler's films have always done a good job keeping a good message prevalent throughout, and (in that respect) Billy Madison does not disappoint.

In Conclusion:

I would recommend this movie to someone with taste like mine. I love silly comedy and I love taking a good message out of a movie with some questionable content in the middle. Pretending every movie you see is going to be squeaky clean in today's day and age is kidding yourself, and many people get wrapped up in the content and miss the point.

So my suggestion to you is this, watch a movie like Billy Madison and look for the silver lining. I firmly believe that we can learn something from every cinematic endeavor, and Adam Sandler has always been an unlikely teacher of those lessons. So open up your eyes and ears, and take a look! I know you won't regret it!

I really appreciate you reading! I have several more reviews queued up already and my vacation is only half over! Thanks so much for reading, and if you haven't already, you can now follow The Archives Report at or on Twitter at @archivesreport.

Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share, or somehow send me your feedback!! I really appreciate any discussion whatsoever! God Bless!!