Picks and Pans Review: Happy Gilmore

updated 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Adam Sandler

Sandler's second starring vehicle is better than his first (last year's pin-brained Billy Madison), but we're talking about increments barely visible to the human eye. This time out, the ex-SNLer plays a hockey enthusiast who discovers that his real talent is for swinging a golf club. He quickly makes a name for himself on the pro circuit, as much for his ice-rinkish behavior (screaming obscenities and throwing punches) as his phenomenal swing, which can propel the ball from the tee onto the green in one stroke.

The comedy here is very physical, very broad—and very noisy. Balls whiz through the air like bullets, more often than not crowning some unlucky innocent in the noggin. The deafening punches are worthy of Raging Bull. It's all pretty loutish. And Sandler's appeal remains a mystery. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes intensely fierce, he suggests an unlikely, unpleasant cross between Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Cruise.

The best acting in Gilmore can be found on the fringes: Joe Flaherty as a manic heckler and Carl Weathers as a onetime up-and-comer who lost his right hand to a crocodile. (PG-13)

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