Stop looking at me, swan! If you were between the ages of 10 and 20 in 1995, and you had the pleasure of receiving a fourth-tier education at any one of the country’s public schools, chances are you already know the film in which that memorable line of dialogue was uttered. Yep, Billy Madison may have been one of the most inane movies ever to have been released by a major studio, but to those who know and love Adam Sandler’s earlier work (we’re talking anything made before he went all mainstream with 1999’s Big Daddy), this surrealist exploration of an adult male that must go back to school in order to take over his dad’s hotel business is right up there with Citizen Kane. Now if only everyone else saw it that way. Here’s a look back at Billy Madison.
In today’s Hollywood economy, where risk-averse franchises supersede any type of originality, it’s doubtful that a film like Billy Madison could ever be greenlit. What can you say, when a running story line in your script involves an overgrown penguin, who serves no functional purpose aside to torment Sandler’s overgrown manchild of a character, well then, that’s not exactly a slam dunk in the pitch room. But hey, at least Sandler had the cojones to do it a couple of decades ago!
Watch Out for the Dead Clown
In the very scene that illuminates why Billy Madison is such a wonderfully bad movie, watch closely as a trickle of blood spews from the clown’s mouth after he falls. Everyone points and laughs, even as he seemingly meets his maker. And why shouldn’t they – he is a clown, after all! Billy Madison was full of these hilarious little moments where the scene’s complete 180 in tone caused you to scratch your head for a moment, right before you busted out laughing. Stupid, yes. But also very funny.
He Will Turn This Damn Bus Around!
You can say that the greatest film of Chris Farley’s brief, but memorable career was Tommy Boy, which coincidentally also came out in 1995. But fans of Billy Madison will recognize Farley’s high-strung bus driver as some of the heavyweight performer’s finest comedic acting. Watch as his face nearly explodes when a student hits him in the face with a sandwich.
Sandler Was Actually Funny
I know what you’re thinking, Adam Sandler has been making hugely successful movies for over 20 years now. That’s got to count for something, right? Well, yes, technically. But for a brief period in the mid-90s, a young Adam Sandler, who was fresh off his “Bad Boys” days as a cast member on SNL, made a few really dumb movies, among them, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and even The Wedding Singer to a certain degree, that were also really funny. But then something happened – Sandler started broadening his act towards a wider sect of the movie-going public. And since then (1998, to be exact) we’ve had to suffer through travesties like Click, That’s My Boy and (gasp!) Jack and Jill. All one needs to do is watch something as incredibly bland as Grown Ups 2 and ask yourself, “Wow, is this really the same dude?” Sadly, yes. Yes it is. But hey, at least we’ve still got the movie about the overgrown penguin!