Sporting film of the day – Happy Gilmore

From robo-heavyweights to angry ice-skaters, sports movies occupy a peculiar and often frankly unwatchable place in the annals of Hollywood history.

Amid global lockdown, the PA news agency runs a daily rule over some of the films that might provide that much-needed sporting fix – and those that absolutely shouldn’t.



Happy Gilmore is a hopeless ice hockey player who discovers by chance that his only skill in his favourite sport – smashing a puck very hard – actually lends itself well to driving a golf ball long distances. Naturally in this slapstick comedy farce, he quickly wins a place on the professional tour and develops a fierce rivalry with top-ranked player Shooter McGavin. Throughout all this Happy is motivated by prize money to buy back his grandma’s repossessed house and a determination to score with the tour’s PR manager Virginia.w


Adam Sandler creates plenty of laughs as the ill-tempered Happy who eventually learns to channel his aggression into golf. With plenty of his subsequent movies having been panned by critics, it still seems to stand among his finest works. Christopher McDonald plays the pompous Shooter, while former American footballer Carl Weathers, better known as Apollo Creed from the Rocky films, appears as veteran pro Chubbs. An early-career Ben Stiller also has a minor role.


There is nothing subtle about the humour in this comedy of absurd exaggeration and cartoon violence. With Happy bringing the fights of the hockey rink to America’s lush fairways, sticklers for golf etiquette should look away – even if some of the crowd scenes seem less outrageous now given goings-on at recent Ryder Cups. That said, we’re unlikely to see Bubba Watson wrestle an alligator for a ball anytime soon. For those who shake their head at golf’s stuffy traditions and eccentric conventions such as playing to win a jacket, this will be up their street.

Star cameo

It is one that might pass British viewers by but fans of American gameshows lapped up the scenes where Price is Right host Bob Barker, playing himself, got dragged into a fist fight with Happy during a pro-am.