The 15 Life Lessons We Learned From 'Billy Madison'

by Arohie Chopra

Okay, you caught me! I know I said I don't like slapstick comedy in #4 of my Elite Daily Post about “Downton Abbey,” but I forgot to mention the one and only exception: Adam Sandler. My friends and I have been following his career since the very beginning of his SNL days. We can recite the dialogue from all of his movies and even describe what the irrelevant background characters are doing in every scene. Which is why we learned so many life lessons from Billy Madison. We also know the secret connections between each of his movies that only true fans have noticed. Excessive…I know!

I like to believe some of Adam Sandler's best movies came before Happy Madison Productions. Do you remember Coneheads? No? Well I'm sure everyone has seen Big Daddy, The Wedding Singer, and America's favorite mama's boy, The Waterboy. Yet, how about Happy Gilmore and my personal favorite movie of all time, Billy Madison? (In case you didn't notice, a hybrid of these two films makes up the name of his production company.)

If it were up to me, watching Billy Madison would be the formal initiation into the Generation-Y community. You have not truly lived without watching this film. Although I do admit this movie was not intended to be educational, the accidentally placed lessons I have learned are endless.

With great difficulty, I have tried to shorten the list. After you're done reading, I urge you to watch the movie (with your brain left at home). When you have accomplished this task, please watch “8 Crazy Nights.” (I just want some reassurance that my friends and I are not the only crazy people who love this movie!) Let us begin.

1. Imagine freely.

Imagination is the essence of creativity. Since life is but an illusion, release your anxiety and imagine freely.

Billy: [Drunk, he sees a fake penguin.] “It's too damn hot for a penguin to be just walkin' around here. I gotta send him back to the South Pole.”

2. Reflect routinely.

There will always be people who disagree with you. It is important to reflect and debate your opinions wisely.

Billy: “Shampoo is better; I go on first and clean the hair! Conditioner is better! I leave the hair silky and smooth! Oh, really, fool?! Really! [He notices a white swan on the edge of the bathtub.] Stop lookin' at me, swan!”

3. Take risks.

You won't always know the right answer, but you need to be daring and take risks. The outcome might not be as planned, but at least you tried.

Brian: “Rock... R-O-K?!”
Billy: “Yeah, so what's your point?”
Brian: “R-O-C-K!”
Billy: “The 'C' is silent, haha!”

4. Respect everyone.

Each person spends their downtime in different ways. It is not our place to judge. We need to be respectful of everyone's right to privacy.

Miss Lippy: [Caught imperative dancing] “Billy, dodge-ball time is a special time. Not just for you boys and girls, but for Miss Lippy, too. So stay outside.”

5. Think differently.

Great and successful businesses don't start with reiterations of existing concepts. Think outside of the box.

Billy: “I drew the duck blue because I've never seen a blue duck before. And to be honest with you, I wanted to see a blue duck.”

6. Never bully.

I am a woman of many talents (modest much?), yet still I will always meet people who more accomplished than I. They are my encouragement. Likewise, when meeting someone who is weaker than you at a certain skill, you must help that person. Making fun or bullying anyone is not an option.

Dan [struggling to read]: “Wa-wa-wa-once th-th-th-there wa-wa-wa-was a-a-a-a g-g-girl... who wa-a-an-“
Billy: “Pffft! Kid can't even read.” Ernie: “Cut it out dude, you're gonna get us in trouble.”
Dan: “An air-air-air-p-p-p-p-plane f-f-flying t-t-t ...” Billy: “T-t-t-today, Junior! Ha-ha-ha!”

7. Keep learning.

There are so many little fun facts we learned in elementary school that we have forgotten over the years. I used to be able to recite every country and capital at age 10. I'm too scared to even try now. Keep learning and refreshing your memory even if it might be difficult.

Billy: “I hate cursive and I hate all of you!”

8. Analyze consequences.

If you lie, it will procure consequences. Analyze the scenario prior to getting yourself stuck in a sticky situation.

Billy: [Faking sickness so he can skip school, Billy lays in bed with a mouth thermometer he heated with his desk lamp.] “I swear to God I'm sick. I can't go to school.”
Juanita: “If you're gonna stay home today, you can help me shave my armpits! Ahahahaha!”
Billy: [disgusted] “Oh, my God! I'll go to school!”

9. Love unconditionally.

If you love and care for someone, you have to have his or her back no matter what. Unconditional love means constantly putting yourself in compromising situations.

Third Grader: “Hey, look everybody! Billy peed his pants!”
Billy: “Of course I peed my pants! Everyone my age pees their pants. It's the coolest!”
Third Grader: “Really?”
Billy: “YES! You ain't cool, unless you pee your pants.”
Third Grader: “Hey, look! Ernie peed his pants, too. All right!”

10. Give thanks.

If someone goes out of his or her way to go the extra mile just for you, be grateful. Enjoy the small delights of life wholeheartedly and give thanks.

Lunch Lady: “Have some more Sloppy Joes. I made 'em EXSHHTRA sloppy for yous! Hahaha! I know how yous kids like 'em shhloppy!” [The lunch lady laughs evilly.]

11. Crack jokes.

Life is too long and it can get dull. So add some humor to your life and constantly crack jokes at the serious stuff.

Billy: “Chlorophyll?! More like BORE-O-PHYLL! Right?”

12. Face fears.

A day will come when you will have to explore the world all on your own. You will have to greet new and mysterious experiences without fear. Therefore, treasure and enjoy the present as much as you can and be ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

Third Grader: “How's high school, Billy?”
Billy: “High school is great. I mean I'm learning a lot. And all the kids are treating me very nice. It's great.”
Third Grader: “Gee, I can't wait till I get to high school.” Billy: [grabs third grader's face and whispers…] “Don't you say that. Don't you ever say that. Stay here. Stay here as long as you can. For the love of God, cherish it. You have to cherish it.”

13. Always apologize.

If you are in the wrong, apologize. Even if years have passed, it is the right thing to do.

Billy: “Umm... this is Billy Madison. You probably don't remember me but I went to high school with you. And I, um, kinda gave you a hard time back then, and, uh, I did some things I thought were funny at the time, and realized they were just mean and stupid. And I just called to apologize and hope you forgive me.” Danny: [nonchalant] “Yeah, sure. Don't worry about it; it's no problem. [Danny reaches down, grabs a marker and uses it to cross Billy's name off of a list on his wall titled, "PEOPLE TO KILL." Once done, he puts on a large amount of bright red lipstick, sighs in relief and sits back to listen to his music.]

14. Accept faults.

The first step in receiving therapy is admitting you have a problem. Accept your faults. That is the only way you can improve.

Freshman: “Are you in loser denial or something? I had a bad case of loser denial myself.”

15. Value criticism.

Since we all admit we have faults, we must agree we are not perfect specimens. So when someone gives you constructive criticism, value it and apply it.

Principal: “Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
Billy: “Okay, a simple wrong would've done just fine.”


16. Be prepared.

Expect the unexpected. If you are prepared, you will always be ahead of the game. Thus, always carry gum.

Billy: “Do you have any more gum, more gum, more gum, more gum?”

Top Photo Courtesy: Popwatch