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.”