Golfballs! (1999)

Once more unto the “Police Academy Week” breach, dear friends! Once more, Sam; for we jam up our VCRs with the VHS dead.

A film such as Golfballs! solidifies the B&S About Movies celluloid theory: All of the Police Academy ripoffs (reviewed this week) are basically ‘60s beach movies, which are the same thing as Porky’s movies, which are the same thing as Meatballs ripoffs, which are really just Animal House ripoffs. And we’ll multiple that equation with Harold Ramis’s Caddyshack and Robert Zemeckis’s incredibly underrated Used Cars.

VHS image courtesy of eBay/ds2p1s

However, if we go back a bit further into the pre-VHS Drive-In epoch, there was 1979’s Gas Pump Girls and 1981’s Lunch Wagon and, if we delve into the direct-to-DVD epoch, 1990’s Zoo Radio and 1992’s The Bikini Car Wash Company (did you ever hear of 1984’s The Malibu Bikini Shop 1995’s Bikini Drive-In: you just did). Yeah, you know the T&A drill: It’s all familiar in terms of plot and characters; it’s raunchy, it’s moronic, and it’s all innocent soft-core shenanigans. And, as is the case with most of these films, there isn’t so much a plot as it is a series of comedic skits and vignettes with the thinnest of through lines. The premise of each of these films is somewhat the same: slobs vs. the snobs. And the slobs with the once glorious business that’s now a shell of its former self is being squeezed out of business by the snobs who want to plow down the landscape or city block for condos or push through a highway overpass to benefit their business.

Such is the tale of Golfballs!, which takes a little bit from each of those films and a blatantly steals a whole lot from Caddyshack (right down to a camouflaged Bill Murray clone) and Used Cars—only adding boobs. Lots of gratuitous boobs from the likes of Playboy and Howard Stern’s perpetual radio guest Amy Lynn Baxter and adult film star Jennifer Steele (and a few others X-stars). And there’s jokes about blue (golf) balls and bent “wood,” a farting Chihuahua, cussing grannies, and more golf double entendres about “sticks” and “balls,” vaudevillian spit-takes, shower scenes, and public urination. Oh, and let’s not forget Golfballs!—as well as Porky’s and Caddyshack from which it pinches—was also shot in South Florida . . . and so was 1989’s Summer Job, which, come to think of it, is sort of like, well, Golfballs!, in the ugh-ack-groan comedy department.

Anyway . . . instead of the competing gas stations from Gas Pump Girls, car lots from Used Cars, and radio stations Zoo Radio, we have competing golf courses, with the once glorious and now decrepit Pennytree Country Club run by a kindly old dude and the upscale Bentwood (yuk, yuk!) run by an old bastard. And the old bastard wants to level Pennytree to make way for condos.

Ah, but when the daisy-duke wearing granddaughter (Christy Tummond) of Pennytree’s owner caddies for a heavy-tipping rich creepy guy—and he keels from a heart attack as she picks up a golfball—she knows how to save the club!

So, with her boyfriend (Todd Allen Durkin)—her grandfather’s right hand man at the club—they hit the nightclubs and strip clubs recruiting hot bodies—both male and female—as scantily clad (the women even more so) caddies and the operators of a Topless (Golf) Cart Wash. And it all culminates with the Greasers and the Socs (Where are you, Ponyboy?) having a “winner take all” golf tournament. It’s no plot spoiler to telling you “The Outsiders” win this one.

And you know what? While not original in the slightest, for a low-budget shot-in-Fort Lauderdale indie with a group of amateur theatre actors, this good vs. evil romp isn’t that bad and has some actual laugh-out-loud moments. It’s not great. But it’s not awful. Too bad Golfballs! wasn’t made during the Drive-In heyday of the ‘70s; it would have cleaned up at the box office right alongside the likes of The Pom Pom Girls, The Van, Malibu Beach, H.O.T.S., and Van Nuys Blvd.

Golfballs! is a competently-shot and acted film; it’s unfortunate this ended up being the only feature film by South Floridian commercial director-cinematographer Steve Procko. It’s also the lone screenplay of Robert Small who, regardless of what the IMDb tells us, isn’t the same Robert Small who worked as a writer, director, and producer for A&E’s Biography, Comedy Central’s Pulp Comics and MTV’s Unplugged (once again burned by the IMDb’s digital content managers with their bad film Intel).

All of the local South Florida community theater actors are good in their roles—especially the leads of Christy Tummond and Todd Allen Durkin. While the affable Tummond dropped off the celluloid landscape, Durkin has since built up an impressive resume with recurring roles on the TV and cable series Magic City, Nashville, Drop Dead Diva, Wrecked, and I Am Frankie. He most recently guest-appeared on FOX-TV’s The Resident, as well as making a three-episode arc on ABC-TV’s January 2023 series, Will Trent. Elizabeth Rodriguez, who appears here as one of the “Bentwood Girls,” later appeared in recurring roles in Fear of the Walking Dead (Liza Ortiz) and Orange is the New Black (Aleda Diaz). As we like to say here at B&S About Movies: Everyone in Hollywood has to start somewhere . . . and Durkin and Rodriquez did alright for themselves. And we dig it.

Golfballs! received worldwide distribution on VHS and DVD and has been reviewed on French, German, and Japanese film sites (see? it pays to cast blonde adult film stars). Sadly, because of its content, it has never appeared on any VOD, PPV, or U.S. Cable TV platforms. Used out-of-print DVDs and VHS tapes are out there in the marketplace, but go for between $30 to $40 dollars. Luckily, we found a free copy to watch on You Tube.

Need another South Florida-shot Police Academy-inspired bit o’ hyjinks (aka policesploitation) with another South Florida-bred actor in his feature film-leading man debut? Check out Private Resort. Wanna rock SoFlo style? Check out Incident at Channel Q.

Update: In June 2022, film journalist David Wain caught up with director Steve Procko for some behind-the-scenes production stories on The Schlock Pit.

— R.D Francis

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