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Tamra Davis
Adam Sandler, Darren McGavin, Bridgette Wilson, Bradley Whitford, Josh Mostel, Norm Macdonald
Writing Credits:
Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler

Tagline: Synopsis:
27-year-old Billy Madison must repeat all 12 grades of school - in just 24 weeks - to earn his father’s respect and prove he has what it takes to run the family’s multi-million dollar empire

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$25.588 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 6/7/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Tamra Davis
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Billy Madison [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 14, 2016)

To find Adam Sandler’s best work – in my opinion, at least – we need to return to his first real leading role. That comes from 1995’s Billy Madison, a gleefully asinine tale that offers a consistently witty and entertaining experience.

I felt positively toward Sandler before I saw Madison. I'd watched him on Saturday Night Live for a few years and I thought he was terrific in that venue. His absurd Weekend Update bit about cheap Halloween costumes kids could make from household items - such as going as “Crazy Spoonhead” - remains one of the funniest SNL routines I've ever seen.

As such, my opinion of Sandler could have dropped after I watched Billy Madison, and to be truthful, it didn’t bowl me over at the time. However, the movie continues to hold up well, and it remains a wonderfully silly piece of work. The Wedding Singer has more heart, Punch-Drunk Love presents more depth, but Madison offers the most laughs.

Billy Madison works upon a slight but clever premise: apparently moronic rich-boy slacker Billy Madison (Sandler) must successfully repeat grades one through twelve or his hotel magnate father (Darren McGavin) will give the company to suck-up business weasel Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) when he retires. Improbable and ridiculous? Sure! But nonetheless, it’s chock full of comedic opportunities.

Some of the film's best-realized moments arise from the absurdity of an adult - even an immature one like Billy – who attends class with very young children. It helps that Sandler plays the role with great charm and occasional innocence; while bits of adult Billy pop out from time to time, he really gets immersed in the grade school culture.

Half the humor of the movie comes from simply watching Billy respond to kids in a childlike way, and many funny scenes come from Billy’s ability to use adulthood to his advantage. I may hate myself afterwards, but I'm always entertained by watching Billy terrorize the first graders at dodgeball.

Clearly this isn't a terribly demanding role, but Sandler nonetheless makes Billy real enough that the viewer roots for him. Yes, its predictable that we see Billy grow from spoiled brat to fairly responsible member of society, but Sandler plays Billy with such an ingratiating ease that we willingly go along for the ride.

The rest of the cast helps make Billy Madison an entertaining and amusing film as well. McGavin has little to do in his role as Billy's father, but he takes his small moments and makes them interesting. Whitford is one of those actors who has the role of sniveling weasel down pat; he's cartoony, but it's a cartoony movie, so that's fine.

Bridgette Wilson grounds the film to a degree with her part as Billy's second grade teacher/love interest. Since she's supposed to be the "adult" in the movie, she doesn't get to do much of great interest, but she performs the role nicely and she certainly adds a tremendous amount of sex appeal to the role. Finally, both Steve Buscemi and Chris Farley provide terrific cameos.

In the end, it's a good thing that Billy Madison boasts some strong performances, because that's really what keeps the movie afloat. Besides its interesting premise, the film offers little that seems unusual, and much of the humor would have been pedestrian at best in the hands of less capable performers.

As it stands, though, Billy Madison offers a funny and entertaining time. It's the perfect movie to watch when you just want to relax and laugh for a little while.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Billy Madison appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an acceptable but not memorable image.

Sharpness was adequate, but the movie could look a bit soft. Fine detail seemed spotty, as the movie came with a flat feel much of the time. This meant delineation was decent but not great.

No shimmering or jaggies showed up, but light edge enhancement became apparent. As for source flaws, I noticed an occasional speck or mark. Those didn’t cause substantial distractions.

Colors worked well and offered some of the transfer’s strongest moments. The film provided a fairly natural but bright palette than translated well here. The tones occasionally looked a little heavy, but they usually seemed vibrant and distinctive.

Black levels also appeared fairly deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not too thick. Despite some positive elements, the overall impression made this a bland presentation.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides. The surrounds added light reinforcement of those elements, but they contributed virtually no unique information.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music seemed nicely bright and vibrant and also demonstrated nice bass response. Overall, the audio worked fine for the movie, but due to its lack of atmospheric ambition, I felt it merited only a “C+”.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the Special Edition DVD from 2004? Audio was a little warmer, but the limited soundscape left it as a minor step up at best. Visuals demonstrated the usual upgrades for Blu-ray, but the lackluster quality of the presentation meant it wasn’t a great improvement. Honestly, I suspect the Blu-ray used the same transfer as the 2004 DVD.

The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras. First we get an audio commentary from director Tamra Davis, who offers a running, screen-specific discussion. She chats about subjects like her hiring, production design, and the atmosphere on the set. Davis wasn’t the film’s original director; she doesn’t name her fired predecessor, but she gets into what it was like to come onto the flick and also points out the scenes she didn’t shoot.

Probably the most interesting tidbits come from her anecdotes. In particular, her memories of downtime fun with Adam Sandler and Chris Farley prove amusing and enjoyable.

However, much of the time Davis simply talks about how wacky the movie’s action is; you’ll hear the word “crazy” used more in this 90-minute commentary than at a Patsy Cline convention. The track also suffers from a fair amount of dead air. Davis offers a number of good points but overall, this piece doesn’t fare terribly well.

A large collection of Deleted Scenes pops up next. Massed into six chapters, we get a total of 42 cut sequences. All together, they run 32 minutes, 55 seconds. As one might infer from the running time and number of sliced scenes, most of them don’t last very long. The majority present fairly brief removals from existing elements, though a few unique sequences appear.

Cut scenes from virtually all parts of the movie show up here. Obviously, there are way too many for me to comment on all of them, but they include a lot of interesting bits. We see more of the movie’s musical number plus a more graphic depiction of what happens to the O’Doyle clan.

Some of the segments veer across the line of good taste. One wisely-excised piece shows Sandler naked in the locker room with the third graders. Another hints at a much darker side to the Ernie character. All are interesting to see, even when they’re problematic.

Next we see a set of outtakes. This reel lasts three minutes, 43 seconds as it presents goofs and gaffes. It’s a little more interesting than usual because it includes a few true outtakes, and we see remnants of deleted scenes that don’t show up elsewhere.

The Blu-ray loses text production notes from the Special Edition DVD. It also fails to include the trailer that appeared on the original DVD.

Despite its various shortcomings, Billy Madison offers a consistently entertaining and frequently amusing experience. I think it remains arguably Adam Sandler’s most winning effort. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio along with some good supplements. I like the movie but the Blu-ray could use an update.

To rate this film, visit the original review of BILLY MADISON