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Caddyshack Tag

Proving Blu-ray isn’t just for videophiles, Caddyshack makes the hi-def leap this week — a low-budget comedy made by an inexperienced director, and a movie that looked like shit 30 years ago and still looks that way today. So why give it a 1080p transfer?

Well, to make money, of course. And also because Caddyshack is awesome.

One of about a million “snobs versus slobs” comedies from the decade, Caddyshack took a diverse starring lineup and made the most of it, blending the old guard (Ted Knight’s stuffy bluster; Rodney Dangerfield’s dinner-theater shtick) with the new (Bill Murray’s mumbled improv; Chevy Chase’s arrogant buffoonery) to create something altogether smarter and funnier than any film co-starring a gopher puppet had any right to be. Stuffed with classic bits and quotable lines, it proved Harold Ramis’ success with Animal House and Meatballs wasn’t a fluke, and provided a launchpad for his (intermittently) successful directorial career in the bargain. It’s unapologetically lowbrow, and it’s brilliant.

Part of Caddyshack‘s brilliance is just how labored over the gags were; Ramis and co-writers Brian Doyle Murray and Douglas Kenney weren’t writing for a set cast, so they didn’t have the luxury of sketching an outline and relying on their stars to carry the picture. Instead, they had an absurdly long script, winnowed down to its funniest elements, which did the heavy lifting so the cast didn’t have to. It looks like a 99-minute accident that luckily ended up being funny, but what Caddyshack had, and so many modern comedies don’t, is a rigorous commitment to craft.

Everybody can use a good chuckle now and then, but the feeling one gets from uncontrollable laughter is hard to beat. I’m talking about the kind of laughter that makes your face turn red, brings you to tears, and leaves you begging for it to stop, if only for a second. That’s the kind of comedy I’m talking about here. Every film on this admittedly slapstick-heavy list is all about one thing: that bubbling feeling of joy that comes from laughing until your sides hurt.

Airplane! (1980). Truth be told, in terms of sheer laughs, I consider this to be the funniest movie ever made. The jokes come so fast that you don’t even have time to process them all — I think it was around my 15th viewing of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker’s directorial debut that I noticed a vulture lurking in the background in one shot. Just about every single disaster-movie cliche is spoofed, plus a few other genres are thrown in for good measure. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, a woman is shown having an affair with a horse.

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Hi everyone! It’s Friday and it’s time to look back at another Billboard Top 10 from — holy crap, this is from 29 years ago. Anybody else feel really old? Thankfully, I think this is a pretty good week for the charts: good variety, strong songs all around, and some really fantastic videos. Join me, won’t you, as we take a stab at October 11, 1980!

10. Give Me the Night — George Benson null
9. Real Love — The Doobie Brothers null
8. Xanadu — Olivia Newton-John/Electric Light Orchestra null
7. I’m Alright — Kenny Loggins null
6. Late in the Evening — Paul Simon null
5. Drivin’ My Life Away — Eddie Rabbitt null
4. All Out of Love — Air Supply null
3. Upside Down — Diana Ross null
2. Woman in Love — Barbra Streisand null
1. Another One Bites the Dust — Queen null

10. Give Me the Night — George Benson (download)

George Benson on roller skates, y’all. Does it get any better?

If you feel like this song’s groove sounds vaguely familiar, it’s probably because it was written by Rod Temperton, former keyboardist for Heatwave, and the man behind much of Off the Wall (and, later, Thriller). Every time I hear a Rod Temperton jam, I’m once again astounded that sounds like this came from a white guy. “Give Me the Night” peaked at #4, making it Benson’s most successful hit, with the awesome, awesome “Turn Your Love Around” right behind it, peaking at #5 in 1981. I’m disappointed that “Lady Love Me (One More Time) only made it to #30. I don’t have much more to say about this song — I’m too busy groovin’.

9. Real Love — The Doobie Brothers

If you buy the Michael McDonald: The Ultimate Collection CD (and you should!) and you import it into iTunes, there’s a good chance that the song titles for the Doobie Brothers tracks will come up like this: “Real Love (ft. The Doobie Brothers).” Now, on one hand, that’s incorrect: these tracks, and others like it, were released under “The Doobie Brothers,” and changing it is akin to changing “Lennon/McCartney” to “McCartney/Lennon.” (Okay, it’s nothing like that, but I just wanted to compare the Doobies to the Beatles for a second.) But in all honesty, these are Michael McDonald tracks featuring the Doobie Brothers. Other than keeping the album as a consistent “Michael McDonald” album, I’m not sure what the reason was for this alteration, other than McD just trying to find one more way to piss off Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. And if that’s the case — bravo, McD! I thought you ran out of ways to irritate Skunk a long time ago. Of course, Baxter was out of the band by the time both this song — and its accompanying album, One Step Closer — were released, and the band was nearing dissolution anyway due to the increased friction that came from essentially being McD’s backing band. Still, “Real Love” is a great song from this era of the Doobies. It’s no “What a Fool Believes” or “Minute By Minute,” but it’s got plenty of soul and a typically great vocal by McD.

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