Billy Madison review by Tom Blain

Why do I laugh?

Sometimes its just the simple things in life. You are a man living in his own filth like me, and you decide to clean the filth one Saturday. Maybe a lady friend is coming over later, maybe you need to find the odd sock, or maybe its just harvest season. The dilemna becomes, what do I do with the TV in the meantime while I'm moving around the apartment? You need to use that background time wisely. I could turn it on and watch cable but I am a cheap-ass and don't have cable (now I lost 99% of you, but follow me...). My only option at this point is to pop in a DVD. I could go with a highly intellectual DVD from my collection but I won't be sitting long enough to enjoy the suble nuances of these films. I need to find myself a "movie". I need something that will give me small gains, and momentary belly laughs. If I spend 5 minutes to Windex my couch pillows, I need instant gratification.

The stupid comedy was created just for a beast like me on cleaning day. Not a screwball comedy but a stupid one. One that not only requires little intelligence but demands it and reflects it in its characters. And what better dumb comedy to watch than.... Billy Madison. Billy Madison was the first successful Adam Sandler vehicle. It proceded the even more sucessful Happy Gilmore ($25 mil to $40 mil), and the deplorable but super-successful Waterboy($160 mil), and still sits as the standard for Adam Sandler's movie-comic-buffoon.

Sandler plays the dopey, man-boy Billy Madison. Billy could drink his way through life on his Hotel mogul father's credit card if he wanted to, (and from the intro, he doesn't seem to object), but the people who create movie plots won't allow it. Instead he decides to prove his intelligence to his father by completing all the grades he bought his way through: K-12. The final prize is running the family business. Let the comedy begin. Madison creates cotton ball snow men in art class. He wins spelling bees. He even plays dodgeball in this joyous celebration of what it was like in the simpler days.

Sure there is a formula here. Its the standard Saturday Night Live "Idiot Hero" formula used in Waynes World, Waynes World 2, and Ladies Man. Billy starts out with modest dreams, is presented with some sort of challenge to accell , gets thwarted momentarily by a goofy villain, but in the end his friends rally him to success beyond any idiot's dreams. Never are these movies believeable, but every once in a while they have enough laughs to keep you coming back for more.

Let me run down the checklist for the SNL formula to work:

JackassCritics CEO Matt Fuerst is rolling over in his cubicle at such thought. Billy Madison? Well what can I say? I love the occasional stupid movie and am not afraid to admit. If you want to laugh with little use of that ole noggin, Billy Madison shall cure your ails.




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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