Today’s feature is another one of the most reviled sequels in cinema history: “Caddyshack 2.”
The script for “Caddyshack 2” was written and rewritten by multiple people, but the ultimate credit went to Harold Ramis and Peter Torokvei. While they penned the first draft of the screenplay, they had little to do with the ultimate product that made it to the screen, particularly after the many rewrites and changes.
“Caddyshack 2” was ultimately directed by Allan Arkush (“Heartbeeps”) after the original director, Alan Metter (“Back to School”), was fired from the production.
The director of photography for “Caddyshack 2” was Academy Award nominee Harry Stradling Jr. (“1776,” “The Way We Were”), whose father, Harry Stradling Sr. was also an Academy Award winning cinematographer who racked up 14 Oscar nominations over his career (including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Guys and Dolls”).
The music for “Caddyshack 2” was provided by Ira Newborn (“Police Squad!,” “The Naked Gun,” “Mallrats,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”), with a theme song once again contributed by Kenny Loggins, who contributed memorable songs to films like the first “Caddyshack” and “Top Gun.”
The special effects team on “Caddyshack 2” included eventual Academy Award winners Donald Elliott (“Life of Pi,” “Congo,” “Wild Wild West,” “Jurassic Park”) and Michael Lantieri (“A.I.,” “Jurassic Park,” “Minority Report,” “Congo”), as well as at least three different crew members with credits specifically for work on the gopher, including Eben Stromquist (“Howard the Duck,” “Mars Attacks!”), Mark Miller (“Hudson Hawk,” “Baby’s Day Out”), and Tad Krzanowski (“Event Horizon,” “Tank Girl”).
Two of the producers for “Caddyshack 2” were Peter Guber and Jon Peters, who would eventually become studio heads at Sony Pictures Entertainment on top of accruing significant producing credits over their careers. Writer/director Kevin Smith has a delightful story about working under Jon Peters for an eventually cancelled “Superman” reboot, which is worth listening to if you haven’t heard it.
The production design for “Caddyshack 2” was provided by William Matthews, who also worked on films like “Captain Ron,” “Gremlins,” and “Poltergeist.” Additionally, the film was edited by Bernard Gribble, who worked on movies like “Death Wish” and “Top Secret!”
The cast of “Caddyshack 2” includes “Saturday Night Live!” alumni Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Randy Quaid, alongside notables like Jackie Mason (“The Jerk”), Dyan Cannon (“Heaven Can Wait”), Robert Stack (“Airplane!”), Chynna Phillips (“Bridesmaids”), and Paul Bartel (“Chopping Mall”).
In an interview with David Letterman, star Jackie Mason said of “Caddyshack 2”: “I am proud of one thing: it is a clean movie.” This isn’t exactly an ideal quality for a sequel to a particularly raunchy comedy classic. Also, you can’t help but wonder if he actually watched the finished product, because it is still relatively raunchy, and he clearly changes the subject as quickly as possible.
The story of “Caddyshack 2” basically boils down to a class conflict between a traditionally upper class country club elite and a boorish self-made entrepreneur, who goes on a vendetta against them after having his country club membership application denied.
Due to burned bridges with most of the original cast over the course of pre-production, the only returning element on-screen from “Caddyshack” is Chevy Chase, who only appears sparingly. It is clear that the script initially planned on a number of characters from the original returning, but was improvised as actors declined roles. For instance, Dan Aykroyd’s character is very clearly a modified version of Bill Murray’s role from “Caddyshack.” Behind the scenes, Harold Ramis (who co-wrote and directed “Caddyshack”) only co-wrote an initial draft, leaving producer Jon Peters as the only major returning crew member.
Due to the multiple issues and delays in getting “Caddyshack 2” off the ground, the film didn’t get released until a whole 8 years after the first film hit theaters: a significant amount of time for a unanticipated sequel.
Apparently, the idea for a “Caddyshack 2” was initially pushed heavily by Rodney Dangerfield, who dropped out of the picture after he wasn’t allowed to re-write the script (which led him being sued by the studio for breach of contract). At that point, producer John Peters became the determined driving force that brought the movie to fruition, in spite of better judgement from nearly the entire cast and crew of the original feature.
In addition to the studio suing Dangerfield for leaving the production, Bill Murray sued the movie’s production over the use of the gopher character, which he created. Apparently, the suit was eventually settled out of court, but it certainly didn’t bode well for the fortunes of the film.
“Caddyshack 2” ultimately won two Golden Raspberries, for Worst Original Song and Worst Supporting Actor (Dan Aykroyd), and also won the Stinkers Bad Movie Award as the worst film of the year. Needless to say, the reception to the movie was not good: it currently has Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 4% (critics) and 17% (audience), along with an IMDb score of 3.6
In a 1999 interview for The A.V. Club, writer Harold Ramis said the following about “Caddyshack 2”:
[The studio] said that Rodney [Dangerfield] really wanted to do it, and we could build it around Rodney. Rodney said, “Come on, do it.” Then the classic argument came up which says that if you don’t do it, someone will, and it will be really bad. So I worked on a script with my partner Peter Torokvei, consulting with Rodney all the time. Then Rodney got into a fight with the studio over his contract and backed out. We had some success with Back To School, which I produced and wrote, and we were working with the same director, Alan Metter. When Rodney pulled out, I pulled out, and then they fired Alan and got someone else [Allan Arkush]. I got a call from [co-producer] Jon Peters saying, “Come with us to New York; we’re going to see Jackie Mason!” I said, “Ooh, don’t do this. Why don’t we let it die?” And he said, “No, it’ll be great.” But I didn’t go, and they got other writers to finish it. I tried to take my name off that one, but they said if I took my name off, it would come out in the trades and I would hurt the film.
“Caddyshack 2” had an estimated budget of $20 million, and ultimately grossed a total of less than $12 million worldwide, making it a significant flop, and paled in comparison to the financial success of the original.
There is certainly no lack of criticisms to be leveled at “Caddyshack 2.” Most people understandably saw the film as a disservice to the original, and as little more than a shallow cash grab. The writing certainly isn’t as strong as “Caddyshack”: the plot is simpler, the jokes aren’t as funny, and the characters aren’t nearly as memorable. A number of moments essentially just retread highlights the original film, like “be the ball” and the gopher. Speaking of which, the gopher can inexplicably talk in this movie. The film does have a few highlights that are few and far between, but they are certainly fleeting.
Overall, “Caddyshack 2” is justifiably forgotten in the public consciousness, and is the perfect example of a sequel trying to hard (and failing) to replicate the charm of its predecessor. As far as a recommendation goes, the behind the scenes context is far more entertaining and intriguing than the movie itself, making it more interesting to research than to actually watch. If you are a die hard fan of “Caddyshack,” you might at least enjoy the handful of solid Chevy Chase moments. As a bad movie, however, it isn’t anything special outside of an academic curiosity.