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kremovdu jabar via YouTube
kremovdu jabar via YouTube

10 Driven Facts About Happy Gilmore

kremovdu jabar via YouTube
kremovdu jabar via YouTube

It doesn't seem like he's grown up at all, but Happy Gilmore turns 20 years old this week. First released on February 16, 1996, the Adam Sandler movie—about a hockey player-turned-aggressive golfer—was panned by critics, with Roger Ebert saying, "Happy Gilmore tells the story of a violent sociopath." Nonetheless, it was a hit with the masses. Here are a few fun facts to share the next time you're on the driving range.

1. Happy Gilmore was based on a real guy.

Happy was loosely based on a childhood friend of Sandler’s named Kyle McDonough. They grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, and would sometimes play golf—but Sandler could never outdrive his buddy, which he attributed to McDonough’s extensive background playing hockey. McDonough went on to play in the East Coast Hockey League, the British Hockey League, and a league in Norway. He remains friends with Sandler to this day.

2. There’s a deleted scene of Julie Bowen making out with a dwarf.

During Happy’s dream sequence, Modern Family star Julie Bowen appeared in lingerie, holding pitchers of beer and getting amorous with Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald). Bowen later revealed on Access Hollywood that they also filmed a version of that scene where she made out with the dwarf dressed like a cowboy.

3. There were cameos from two pro golfers.

Mark Lye chats with Happy at a cocktail party, while Lee Trevino shakes his head in disappointment several times. Though he was silent for most of his appearance, Lee Trevino later regretted being in the movie. “If [I’d known] they were going to use all those foul words in there, I never would have done it,” he said.

4. Bob Barker did his own stunts.

Bob Barker obviously had no qualms with the language in the film, uttering one of the movie’s most memorable (and explicit) lines. The Price is Right host wasn’t sure he wanted to do the movie until he was informed that he would win the fight. When director Dennis Dugan told him that a stunt double would be used in the famous fight scene, Barker insisted on doing his own stunts, saying, “Wait a minute, I know how to fight.” The rest is history:

5. The fight won an MTV Movie Award.

Sandler and Barker both showed up to accept the award. “I’d like to thank Bob for being 72 years old and still letting me punch him in the face,” said Sandler.

6. Christopher McDonald passed on the movie—twice.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else as Shooter McGavin, but McDonald almost didn’t accept the role. He wanted more family time, and he wasn’t sure that “the guy who did ‘Opera Man’ was going to be any good.” But then he won a thrilling round of golf and was inspired to call his agent back and see if the “golf movie” was still available.

7. It was co-written by Sandler’s college roommate.

Writer Tim Herlihy met Adam Sandler when they were paired together at NYU in 1984. Herlihy went to law school, but when Sandler landed a job on SNL, he got his friend on as a writer. They went on to write Billy Madison together, then Happy Gilmore. Though he and Sandler wrote the movie together and they no longer remember whose joke was whose, Herlihy takes credit for one memorable line in particular:

8. The film earned Adam Sandler a Razzie nomination.

Though the movie was a box office hit, earning $41.2 million on a $12 million budget, not everyone loved it. Sandler was a contender for the 1996 Worst Actor Razzie Award, which he also earned for starring in the movie Bulletproof; he lost to Tom Arnold and Pauly Shore.

9. Even the pros love Happy Gilmore.

Critics may not have loved Happy Gilmore, but professional athletes do. German golfer Martin Kaymer tried a Happy-style approach during the long drive competition at last year's PGA Championships.

In September, pro soccer player Matt Besler of the Sporting Kansas City provided a familiar-sounding quote to a Portland reporter after a tie game there. “It was a hard-fought draw. I tell you the real winner today is the city of Portland. Every time we come here it gets harder to leave. I bet you guys put something in the water.”

10. There probably won't be a sequel.

Last year, Screen Rant asked Sandler if he had considered revisiting his old pals Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. He was kind of cagey with his answer, but ultimately ended with “I doubt it, though.”

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Shout! Factory
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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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Troma Entertainment
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11 Bite-Sized Facts About Cannibal! The Musical
Troma Entertainment
Troma Entertainment

Back in their film school days, the creators of South Park made a twisted tribute to Rogers and Hammerstein. Cannibal! The Musical is (very) loosely based on the life of Alfred "Alferd" Packer, an American prospector who resorted to eating his travel companions in the harsh winter of 1874. Below, you’ll find a buffet of bite-sized facts about this weirdly upbeat black comedy. Bon appétit!

1. IT ALL STARTED WITH A GAG TRAILER.

In 1992, Trey Parker was studying film at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where pretty much everyone knows all about the legend of Alfred "Alferd" Packer. Indeed, when a new restaurant opened up on campus in 1968, the student body chose to name it after this famous man-eater. The restaurant’s slogan? “Have a friend for lunch.” As a joke, Parker rounded up some of his fellow film majors and spent three days shooting a phony trailer for a nonexistent movie called Alferd Packer: The Musical. Included in the ensemble was Matt Stone, with whom Parker would go on to create South Park.

Once the Alferd Packer promo was finished, those who worked on it weren’t sure if they could turn this concept into a feature-length picture. Fortunately, the trailer was a huge hit. “People thought it was really funny,” Parker told The Denver Post, “so we went around … and said, ‘So do you want to invest?’” Thanks (for the most part) to donations from a few CU grads with wealthy parents, Parker and his co-stars amassed a $100,000 budget.

2. LIANE THE HORSE WAS NAMED AFTER TREY PARKER’S EX-FIANCÉE.

At age 21, Parker was all set to marry his high school sweetheart. “We had plane tickets, the dress was bought, the church was paid for,” Parker shared on the DVD commentary. Then, about a month before the wedding, he caught his bride-to-be with another man. Devastated, Parker broke off the engagement and came up with an unusual way to get even. “I really wrote this movie for her,” he said.

A major character in Cannibal is Liane, Packer’s beloved horse, who leaves him for another rider. The two-timing equine was named after Parker’s former fiancée. Some artistic license was taken here, as there’s no proof that the real Packer ever owned a horse named Liane—or that he ever wistfully sang about being on top of her.

3. AN AVANT-GARDE LEGEND WAS CAST IN A MINOR ROLE.

World-renowned for his experimental filmmaking, the late Stan Brakhage taught off and on at the University of Colorado, where he met Parker and Stone. The two convinced him to appear in Cannibal! as George Noon’s father, who gets about two minutes’ worth of screen time.

4. PARKER’S DAD WAS IN IT, TOO.

Just like Stan Marsh’s dad in South Park, Trey Parker’s father, Randy, is a geologist. In Cannibal! The Musical, he portrays the Breckenridge judge who sentences Packer (played by Trey) to death.

5. “SHPADOINKLE” WAS MEANT AS A FILLER WORD.

In addition to penning the Cannibal! script, Parker also wrote the film’s musical numbers. The first of these is “Shpadoinkle Day,” an offbeat tribute to “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Parker knew that the first verse had to include a positive, three-syllable word, but couldn’t think of any that fit. So he used the made-up term “Shpadoinkle” to plug the gap until he could come up with an alternative. However, the creative team liked “shpadoinkle” so much that it stayed put and became one of Cannibal’s running jokes.

6. THEY SHOT IN THE COURTROOM IN WHICH PACKER WAS ACTUALLY TRIED.

On April 6, 1883, Packer was put on trial at the Hinsdale County Courthouse in Lake City, Colorado. Over the next few days, he admitted to dining on two of his dead travel companions—one of whom he supposedly killed in self-defense (the other died of natural causes). Packer was found guilty of murder, but avoided the hangman’s noose by fighting for a second trial, which took place 30 miles away in Gunnison. This time, he was charged with five counts of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 40 years in prison. However, while Packer languished behind bars, public opinion slowly turned in the cannibal’s favor. Under near-constant pressure from The Denver Post, Governor Charles S. Thomas pardoned Packer in 1901.

More than 90 years later, Parker filmed the trial scenes of Cannibal! The Musical at the still-standing Hinsdale County Courthouse. About halfway through the movie, the judge delivers a big speech in which he sentences Packer to death. His on-screen monologue was copied word-for-word from the court transcript of that 1883 Lake City trial.

7. AS THE MINERS SING “THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING FOR,” YOU CAN SEE PARKER MOUTH THE WORD “CUT.”

It goes by fast, but you can see Parker call "cut" to end the shot at the 3:06 mark in the clip above.

8. PARKER USED A PSEUDONYM FOR THE OPENING CREDITS.

Parker billed himself as "Juan Schwartz" in the cast of Cannibal because, according to the movie's website, "Trey doesn't like seeing one person's name plastered all over a movie's credits." Since he is properly credited as writer and director, he likely felt the additional acting credit was a bit too much. Incidentally, Packer called himself “John Shwartze” while evading the law before his arrest.

9. A FEW SONGS WERE DELETED.

The original cut of Cannibal! The Musical ran for two and a half hours, but thanks to some major-league editing, the runtime was reduced to a breezy 93 minutes. “There were fights about that from the get-go, but I give credit to Trey for being the toughest critic,” producer Jason McHugh told MovieMaker Magazine. “He had the maturity to know that a musical comedy about cannibals can’t be two and a half hours long.”

In the streamlining process, two musical numbers got the axe. The first was a quick little dirge called “Don’t Be Stupid,” wherein some nameless miners tell Packer’s group to postpone their journey until springtime. The other was “I’m Shatterproof,” a rap/funk song that Packer, hardened by his recent ordeals, delivers during a bar fight. Also deleted was a reprise of “When I Was On Top of You.”

10. COMEDY CENTRAL WOULDN’T BROADCAST IT.

Cannibal! was distributed by Troma Entertainment, an independent production company best known for creating The Toxic Avenger series. When South Park began to emerge as a major player on cable TV, Troma’s co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, assumed that Comedy Central would jump at the chance to air some of Parker and Stone’s earlier work. Instead, the channel flatly refused to air Cannibal.

Kaufman was sent a rejection letter from Comedy Central, which read: “Thank you for submitting and re-submitting Cannibal! The Musical, but it is simply not up to our standards for broadcasting.” Troma forwarded a copy of this dispatch to Parker. Today, it’s prominently displayed in his office—at Comedy Central!

11. IT HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A STAGE MUSICAL ON MANY OCCASIONS.

Can’t get tickets to The Book of Mormon? Perhaps you can catch a live reenactment of Cannibal! The Musical instead. Since 1998, the movie has been seen more than 60 stage adaptations. There’s no “official” version of the theatrical show. As such, acting troupes that might be interested in performing Cannibal! have to write their own scripts based on the original movie. 

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