HD DVD Title: Happy Gilmore
Screen format: 1080p/480i/480p 1.85:1
Studio: Universal Pictures
First theatrical release: February 1996
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Full Screen Pan and Scan (Feb. 1998) and Special Edition Widescreen (August 2003) DVDs
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen and Carl Weathers
Sound Formats: English, Spanish, French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Length: 1 hour 32 minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Adam Sandler stars as Happy Gilmore, a frustrated hockey player forced to try his hand at the game of golf to get the money to save Grandma Gilmore’s (Francis Bay) homestead from IRS auction (and her from sociopath nurse (an uncredited Ben Stiller)). To beat tour hotshot Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) Happy will have to rely on inspiration from his one handed tutor Chubbs Peterson (Carl Weathers), club selection from homeless caddy Otto (Allan Covert) and anger management from sexy PR professional Virginia Venit (Julie Bowen). To win the Tour championship Happy will deal with a madcap group of fans and celebrities along the way, including Lee Trevino, Bob Barker and Jaws himself, Richard Kiel.
On the video side of things, this is a pretty slick looking video, nice colors and pretty decent detail. The cinematography of this movie doesn’t lead it down the road to be a reference quality film to start with, but this HD DVD captures all of the original detail quite nicely. I did note some intermittent use of edge enhancement, often around heads in darker scenes, but it wasn’t too worrisome.
The audio side is similar in quality. There are a few notable pans and deep bass effects (particularly in the mini golf scenes, where Happy encounters the Earthquake hole), but on the whole this could have been a 2.0 movie and not much would have been missed. Happy is also sappy for 70s and 80s light music / love songs, so those are featured on the soundtrack, which definitely gets it a knock in my book, but others may be more forgiving.
As for extras, perhaps the previous DVD releases could get away with slapping in a dozen deleted scenes and a 5 minute outtake roll (all in terribly grainy non-anamorphic 480i) and calling it a special edition, especially after the pan and scan original release, but that doesn’t cut it in 2006. At least Universal had the sense to not dub this a special edition release despite shoveling on the same material from that disk.
Happy is typical Sandler at work: hyper-aggressive potty mouth learns to play to his strengths and get the girl of his dreams. Whether you love or hate his brand of comedy will determine if this is your cup of tea, but don’t go in expecting highbrow humor or even something in the league of Caddyshack. Decent video quality and a few funny lines (The price is WRONG!) are not enough to save this disk from mediocrity; HD DVD will need more than the shovel on and ship treatment from prior DVDs to earn its way in the format war.