Billy Madison (1995)


Billy Madison is a 1995 comedy film starring Adam Sandler in the title role about a slacker who must go back to school in order to take over his father's company. The comedy also features Bradley Whitford, Josh Mostel, Bridgette Wilson, Chris Farley, Norm MacDonald, Steve Buscemi and Darren McGavin. It was written by Sandler and Tim Herlihy, directed by Tamra Davis, and produced by Universal Studios. It made over $25.5 million worldwide.


27-year-old 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. This prompts Brian to lose any remaining faith in Billy, as he chooses the conniving Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) to become the next CEO of the company. When Billy 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, who despises Eric, begs his father to reconsider his decision. The two finally come to a compromise; Billy must pass elementary, junior high, 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. Billy's development and progression 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 in which back in 1983, he 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 accusations. 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 and Eric is given the chance to answer, and potentially win. However, he is asked to answer a question about business ethics, which he has no concept of, 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 back at Billy by turning his gun on Veronica. Suddenly, a rifle-wielding madman, Danny McGrath (Steve Buscemi), whom Billy apologized to earlier in the film for bullying in school, disables Eric by firing a single shot into his buttocks. Later, at Billy's graduation, he announces that he will pass the hotel business on to Carl Alphonse (Larry Hankin), his father's loyal, longtime employee, and will attend college with hopes of becoming a teacher.