Monday, March 13, 2006

An Ode to Shooter McGavin.

(Shooter McGavin, Movie Villian; Jerk)

Last night while trying to find something to watch on television, I came across Happy Gilmore on the Universal HD channel. Happy Gilmore is one of those movies that, while flipping through the channels, you always stop to watch...even if its just for a moment. It is a classic comedy, a classic Adam Sandler movie, and one of the most watchable movies about golf ever made. Nothing else on cable piqued my interest at the time, so I stuck with Happy. As usual, I was not sorry for that decision. Each time I watch that movie, I laugh at the Sandler parts of course: taking batting practice balls off the chest, fighting hecklers in the crowd, etc. But what amazes me in this Sandler movie, and in most of his others, is the quality laughs provided by the supporting cast. If its not Chubbs, its the bum caddy. If its not the "Mista Mista" lady, its Lee Travino. However, there is one character in this movie that takes the cake, not only for laughs, but for being a complete and utter douchebag. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I speak of Shooter McGavin.

Shooter McGavin is played by Christopher McDonald, who has appeared in many movies and many television shows. The reason you can't seem to come up with the names of any is because Christopher McDonald is known as Shooter McGavin...he's got to be. Anybody who plays a character that well must become synonomous with that character. I don't know where the inspiration for this character came from, but I hope its an actual, living person. Shooter, as you may well know, is the top pro on the golf tour in this movie, yet he hasn't been able to win the Tour Championship and receive his Golden Jacket. This feat is looked at as the pinnacle of the golf season, yet for all the tournaments Shooter wins, he cannot seem to win the big one. Enter Happy Gilmore, who qualified for the tour at a local play-in tournament called The Waterbury Open. Happy immediately receives attention from the media because he can drive the ball 400 yards. Well that and the fact that he throws clubs, beats fans, and goes on forty second swearing rampages. Shooter does not believe that Happy deserves any attention at all (because he sucks at golf), and is jealous of it. It is this jealousy that drives Christopher McDonald's Shooter McGavin character from an average comedy movie antagonist to Legendary Movie Villian.

From the very first time we see Shooter, we realize he is a dickhead. When tour P.R. director Virginia Venit approaches Shooter at the Waterbury Open, Shooter says that he has heard a lot about the work she has done (he hasn't). When she tries to talk to him about that work, he tells her to get him a Pepsi. Diet. Soon after that scene, Happy is out on the golf course, where he has just sunk a hole in one on a par 4. Virginia is watching with Shooter as it takes place:
Virginia: [to Shooter] Did you see that?
Shooter McGavin: Yes. Nice shot.
Virginia: He just got a Hole-in-One on a par four!
Shooter McGavin: I know. I just said I saw it.
Virginia: [laughs] Oh, I hope he wins. He's a publicist's dream. I mean, a guy who could drive the ball that far - oh, he could really draw a crowd. [Virginia walks away smiling]
Shooter McGavin: [under his breath] You know what else could draw a crowd? A golfer with an arm growing out of his ass.
If thats not high comedy, I don't know what is. Sometimes, when an actor nails a character perfectly like this, even the unfunny lines are funny. Shooter is so jealous of Happy even at this early juncture, that he downplays everything Happy does, even if it is remarkable. This characteristic drives Shooter McGavin to be the biggest prick he can be.

As Happy starts to make his way on the tour, Shooter makes life tough for him. He tells Happy to meet him at the 9th green at 9pm, for what Shooter calls a 'secret of the pros.' When Happy arrives, nobody is there except the sprinklers that were programmed to go on at 9. Shooter continues to agitate Happy because Shooter keeps winning and Happy needs to perform better to win money for his grandmother's house. Shooter finds out about Happy's grandma, and shows up to bid on the house when it goes on the market. He is the highest bidder, and when Happy confronts him, Shooter threatens to, "Burn the house to the ground and piss on the ashes." Eventually Happy becomes good at golf though, and Shooter resorts to hiring someone to heckle Happy and get him off his game. This works, but later on Happy overcomes it and he has his showdown with Shooter at the Tour Championship.

Shooter goes into the Tour Championship as the favorite to win, but he is pissed off at what Happy and his crowd of fans are doing to golf. During the final weekend of the tournament, Shooter can be heard telling people in the crowd to, "Go back to your Shanties," and "Damn you people. This is golf, not a rock concert." He obviously doesn't think that Happy's fans should be considered golf fans, what with the beer helmets, boob signings, and fat bikers making sweet love in the woods off the green. Through all the distractions, Shooter holds together his lead, even after multiple run-ins with Mr. Larson, Happy's old construction boss who was shot in the head with a nail gun by Happy. On a side note, the man who plays Mr. Larson lives in my town. Its either him, or maybe the guy has a twin. Everytime I see him, I replay the following scene in my head.

Mr. Larson: Trying to reach the green from here Shooter?
Shooter McGavin: I'm afraid that's impossible.
Mr. Larson: I beg to differ. Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat no more than an hour ago. Shooter McGavin: Well moron [turns to see Mr. Larson for the first time]
Shooter McGavin: Good for Happy Gilmo-- OH MY GOD!!!
If you haven't seen the movie, perhaps you saw the James Bond movie Moonraker, where the actor who plays Mr. Larson plays Jaws. Now you realize what Shooter was up against.

Shooter loses the tournament he so desperately wants to win when Happy sinks a miraculous putt. This is the usual treatment of villians in movies, and nobody deserved his fate as much as Shooter. He was arrogant, stuck-up, rude, and all together unlikable character in the movie, but he played his part well. Villians are supposed to make you hate them; make you want to inflict pain on them for being so vile. Shooter is that, and so much more. It is rare to get a villian who is such an asshole all the time; it is quite another that this asshole makes you laugh consistently. Usually laughs and villainy do not mix well. Shooter is known for a few lines in Happy Gilmore, especially the "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast," as well as "Just stay out of my way or you'll pay, listen to what I say" and of course, the Hasslehoff joke I use everytime I hit the links. Everybody knows those lines, but it is the entire perfomance, the entire character, that make each line that much better. In the end, Shooter ends up being pummeled off screen by Mr. Larson, thus ending the all-too-short run of brilliance by one of the greatest villians in cinematic history.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of Sandlers and have to say the movie is definitely a classic.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my second comment in a matter of a minute, but i suggest the writer publish some articles about porn, difference between women and men, and maybe a public mockery of his coworker Pillows.
The last request would be the most appreciated..

11:42 AM  

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