"Billy Madison" is the movie responsible for kicking off Adam Sandler's film career. While not perfect and not as good as his follow-up, "Happy Gilmore," "Billy Madison" has some good laughs and an absolutely goofy plot that is great for mindless entertainment.
Sandler stars as the title character, a juvenile idiot who has grown up doing nothing but taking advantage of his father's wealth. When his father announces his retirement, Billy decides he wants to take over the company, but to do so, he has to repeat all 12 grades of school. Starting in kindergarten, he begins his re-education, and along the way picks up a girlfriend in the form of his third grade teacher (Bridgette Wilson) and an enemy in the form of Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing") who wants the company for himself. The plot makes little sense, but provides for plenty of great scenes.
"Billy Madison" has always been a bit too cornball for me, but I still find it moderately entertaining. Most of Sandler's films have him playing a dumb-ass who goes against the odds and the reason this one is still so popular is that it is the first; most of the rest were merely clones. Sandler's character really isn't likable for the first half hour as he plays a man who is so moronic he is hard to relate to, but by the end of the film he turns into an unlikely hero. Elements of his character aren't very funny, but Sandler is one of the few people that could even pull it off.
I wish more would have been resolved with the various enemies Billy picks up along the way, namely the O'Doyle's, a family of ugly redheads who pick on him throughout various levels of his schooling. While the film does kill them off in the end, it would have been nice to see Billy take a more proactive approach to them and embarrass them in front of everyone. There are other minor storylines that "Billy Madison" could have capitalized on but never does.
The DVD does fill in some of the gaps by providing an amazing 35 minutes of deleted scenes. While not all are worthwhile, they are definitely worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of the movie. A commentary by director Tamra Davis and outtakes are also included on the disc.
"Billy Madison" is a fun little movie with a goofy premise and goofy jokes. It could have been funnier, but it's still entertaining.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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