Owen Gleiberman
February 23, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Happy Gilmore” and ”Black Sheep”

Is America becoming a nation of pain freaks? In Happy Gilmore and Black Sheep, the pleasures of anarchic slapstick (The Three Stooges, The Road Runner) give way to a comic sadism that’s stupefying in its literal-mindedness. Sitting through these movies is like having your funny bone whacked repeatedly by a two-by-four.

As Happy Gilmore, a hockey player who becomes an insanely violent golf pro, Adam Sandler plays down his infantile impishness — the brat as self-adoring chipmunk — and comes on as a marauding frat-house terrorist. Happy has an awesome long drive (he can smash a golf ball 400 yards), and he treats everyone the way he treats that ball: as an object to be decimated. During his sojourn on the greens, he chokes an alligator, pours forth Tourettic streams of obscenities, and engages in deliriously brutal fisticuffs with Bob Barker (”The price is wrong, bitch!”). A one-joke Caddyshack for the blitzed and jaded, Happy Gilmore does have something going for it: Adam Sandler’s pitiless confidence as a performer. What’s missing is Sandler’s charm.

In Black Sheep, Chris Farley and David Spade turn their act into formula. Farley gets hit by a broom, and Spade smirks. Farley staples his hand, and Spade smirks. Farley gets dragged along by a car, and Spade smirks. This time, Farley plays a politico’s derelict brother, but Black Sheep, unlike the much funnier Tommy Boy, forgets to bring the apoplectic oaf into conflict with the pained denizens of society. Instead, the pain is reserved exclusively for the audience. Happy Gilmore: D+ Black Sheep: F

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