9x9x9: Billy Madison–you gotta get your ass out there and find that fucking dog.

I was in 3rd grade when this film came out and my mom took me to see it in theaters.

It was PG-13, it was Adam Sandler, it seemed acceptable. A few others in my classroom saw it, too, and we were the lucky ones. The upper echelon of cool to third graders.

Since then, this movie became another family classic like Blazing Saddles–one that I’ve seen an innumerable amount of times, that I can quote with regularity, that’s a mainstay for sick days.

But it’s not until now that I begin to consider it critically.

Let’s put it out there, it’s in no way a high-art all time greatest film. But it’s fucking hilarious. And that’s all it needed to be for it to be rendered a success.

Comedy is a genre that can get by with its laughs. Horror gets by with its thrill. Action with its explosions. They are films built for for a purpose and a set reaction. If you can illicit the promised reaction–irregardless of whether or not it comments on some facet of life–then it has accomplished what it promised. The Slasher films or grossout comedies that both deliver on their promise and make some comment on life are the high echelon–Punch Drunk Love, Heat, Cache, etc.

Billy Madison isn’t one those films. But it’s goddamn good at doing what it came to do. Like an excellent carpenter who says he’s gonna build you the best fucking cabinet you’ve ever seen, this movie says it’s gonna deliver gut busting laughs. It does.

This is Adam Sandler at the top of his game in the first film of his late-90’s dominance as the box office king of comedy. He would develop better characters later (Robbie in the Wedding Singer) but this is him just developing his arrested-development character that he’s used throughout his film career.

There is a very interesting element to it, structure-wise.  It’s built as a kid’s film. Like, there’s the requisite life lesson about believing in yourself, and clear cut lines vis a vis the characters. There’s the princess to rescue, the flawed hero, the single-dimensioned villain, the villain’s good-hearted assistant who got hired by the wrong team. There’s even a musical number.

The only real difference between this film and a marketed-as-a-kids movie is that the adult jokes that are subtle in something by Pixar or Dreamworks is overt in this film.

I'll turn this goddamn bus around. Then there'll be no goddamn field trip.

 

It’s interesting to consider, then, that as a child, you didn’t understand those jokes. And, seeing this film, kids don’t understand those jokes–and most everything else that Chris Farley says. They may be far more pronounced/cheeky, but they still remain lost on the child’s limited range of understanding.

When I was in third grade, the only thing that really stuck with me was the fact they said “fuck.” This was the first instance of ever hearing that in a PG-13 film, so it was exciting to experience an “R-Rated” element or whatever I would conceptualize it as as a third grader.

But, then again, any child will get it when Billy makes out with a picture of Veronica and tweaks her imaginary nipples. That didn’t go unnoticed by me, and as a result, I had to close my eyes.

This film, then, is simply a kids movie for adults. One that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike without the stigma of “seeing a kids movie” even though that’s ostensibly what it is.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s