- Billy Madison
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tamra Davis Produced by Robert Simonds Written by Adam Sandler
Starring Adam Sandler
Music by Randy Edelman Cinematography Victor Hammer Editing by John Gilroy
Distributed by Universal Studios Release date(s) February 10, 1995 Running time 82 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $20 million Box office $26,488,734
Billy Madison is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Tamra Davis and starring Adam Sandler, in the title role, Bradley Whitford, Bridgette Wilson, Norm Macdonald and Darren McGavin. The film was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy, and produced by Universal Studios. It made over $25.5 million worldwide. The film is about a slacker (Billy Madison) who must go back to school in order to take over his father's company. The comedy also features Chris Farley and Steve Buscemi with uncredited appearances.
Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) has spent his entire life reaping the benefits of his father's hotel chain, Madison Hotels. He spends his days drinking with friends, Jack (Mark Beltzman) and Frank (Norm Macdonald), and creating disturbances across his father's estate.
One day, Billy ruins a dinner meeting between his father, Brian (Darren McGavin), and his associates by acting obnoxiously after being intimidated by Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford). This prompts Brian to lose any remaining faith in Billy, as he chooses the conniving Eric to become the next CEO of the company. When Billy, who despises Eric, protests that he can be responsible, Brian reveals that he secretly bribed all of Billy's school teachers in order for him to pass. Billy begs his father to reconsider his decision. The two finally come to a compromise: Billy must pass elementary, middle, and high school (grades 1-12) on his own within the course of twenty-four weeks (two weeks per grade), in order to prove his competence.
Shortly after enrolling into school, Billy becomes attracted to a third grade teacher named Veronica Vaughn (Bridgette Wilson), who initially is disgusted with Billy and finds his enrollment to be a distraction for the other students. He eventually finds himself as one of Vaughn's students and earns her respect by defending Ernie (Jared Cook), his friend and classmate. Billy becomes popular among the third graders and begins to miss them as he advances through school.
When Billy reaches ninth grade, he finds that rather being than the cool guy that everyone looks up to, he is now considered a loser; realizing how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying, he calls up an old classmate, Danny McGrath (Steve Buscemi), and apologizes for the way he treated him in high school. Danny accepts his apology, and crosses his name off a list of people to kill.
Billy's progress frustrates and alarms Eric, leading him to take the offensive while Billy struggles in high school. He visits Billy's grade school principal, Max Anderson (Josh Mostel), and threatens to reveal his past as a professional wrestler that is filled with controversial incidents, especially a particular one back in 1983, when Max accidentally caused the death of another man while performing a stunt. Coerced, Max publicly states he took bribes from Billy in return for passing him.
The announcement angers Brian who chooses to give the hotel chain to Eric. Billy becomes distraught and reverts to his original care-free lifestyle. Veronica and others come to Billy's aid, convincing him to keep fighting Eric. He returns to school and begins to study again; however, Billy realizes that he must reclaim the hotel chain. His grade school friends visit Max at his home and convince him to retract his previous statements.
With Billy's named cleared, Brian argues to Eric that Billy deserves another chance, but Eric disagrees and threatens to file a lawsuit. Billy challenges Eric to an academic decathlon that will determine his father's successor. Although both men excel in different activities, Billy manages to take a single-point lead before the contest's final event, a Jeopardy!-style academic test. The game progresses as Eric is given the chance to answer and potentially win. However, he is asked to answer a question about business ethics, of which he has no concept, and begins to break down. Refusing to admit defeat, he brandishes a gun at Billy. Max, clad in his wrestling outfit, subdues Eric. The attack fails to keep Eric down and he makes a final attempt to get revenge on Billy by turning his gun on Veronica. Suddenly, Danny McGrath appears with a high-powered rifle and disables Eric by firing a single shot into his buttocks.
At Billy's graduation, he announces that he is passing the hotel business to Carl Alphonse (Larry Hankin), his father's loyal, longtime employee, and will instead attend college with hopes of becoming a teacher.
- Adam Sandler as Billy Madison
- Darren McGavin as Brian Madison
- Bridgette Wilson as Veronica Vaughn
- Bradley Whitford as Eric Gordon
- Josh Mostel as Principal Max Anderson
- Norm Macdonald as Frank
- Mark Beltzman as Jack
- Larry Hankin as Carl Alphonse
- Theresa Merritt as Juanita
- Jim Downey as Principal/Judge of the "Decathlon"
- Hrant Alianak as Pete
- Vincent Marino as Cook
- Robert Smigel as Mr. Oblaski
- Chris Farley as Bus Driver (uncredited)
- Steve Buscemi as Danny McGrath (uncredited)
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times commented; "Sandler has a bad habit of thinking he is funnier than we do." On At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert gave the film a very bad review, and Roger Ebert said of Sandler, "... Not an attractive screen presence, he might have a career as a villain or a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is he creates the fingernails on the blackboard." Gene Siskel added "... you don't have a good motivation for the character's behavior." Rotten Tomatoes reports that based on the 34 reviews counted, 41% of critics gave the film a positive review.
Despite mixed reviews, the film has garnered a large cult following. The movie continues to enjoy widespread appeal among young adult audiences and is considered to be one of Adam Sandler's funniest films.
Awards and nominations
- MTV Movie Award
- Adam Sandler - Best Comedic Performance
- Billy Madison at AllRovi
- Billy Madison at the Internet Movie Database
- Billy Madison at the TCM Movie Database
Films directed by Tamra Davis 1990s 2000s 2010sJean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)
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