The Greatest Game Ever Played Movie Review

You learn several facts about golf in Bill Paxton's adaptation of The Greatest Game Ever Played, including that the sport was once so dominated by social standing that family background played as big a role as a player's skills.

That tidbit of information is not so appealing when it's shoved down your throat for two hours. Paxton and writer Mark Frost (adapting from his own non-fiction book), so intent on remaking Seabiscuit on a golf course, so zealous to show the triumph of the common man, don't create a feel-good, root-for-the-underdog movie, but a caricature of one. You've never seen so many scenes of fat, rich men in fancy suits, huddled around oak desks sipping brandy and talking in solemn tones. You've never seen so many scenes of working class strife. If the movie's working class hero (Shia LaBeouf, looking all grown up) was tied to a railroad track by the dastardly duo of J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, it wouldn't come as a surprise.

Set in 1900, the movie stars LaBeouf as Francis Ouimet, a young man whose dreams of playing golf appear over at 20, the victim of a working class background and a hard promise to his grizzled immigrant father (Elias Koteas). However, a benefactor at the hometown golf course where Francis caddied offers the boy a shot to play for the U.S. Open, which he qualifies for.

The game means a lot to Francis, playing in one of the world's biggest tournaments (across the street from his house, no less) against his boyhood idol, Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). Vardon also has his own problems, with the British elite pressuring him to get the trophy back to the island, while the great golfer itches to be accepted by the same men who have always shunned him.

As Francis takes the course with a kid caddie (Josh Flitter) and moves his way through the talented pack, the game becomes a statement on the triumph of athletic ability over class. That's a great hook, but as mentioned before, Paxton and Frost handle the theme with the tact of fingernails on a chalkboard. Any of Vardon and Ouimet's emotional nuances get dwarfed every time Mr. Ouimet lectures Francis or a rich guy with a bad mustache furrows his brow over the common man ruining golf.

The heavy hand continues when Paxton hits the links. The golfing scenes are a disaster: outlandish sound effects, quick editing, and innumerable, badly CGI-enhanced shots of golf balls slicing through the air. These shots are pedantic, distracting us from the movie's real focus: a boy and a man trying to find their place in a world that has always rejected them.

The Greatest Game isn't a complete wash because the two lead performances are the antithesis of Paxton and Frost's screaming-from-the-cheap-seats style. LaBeouf is earnest and determined in all the right ways; you do root for him, even when Paxton and Frost do everything to make that impossible. Dillane creates a sympathetic figure in Vardon, who excels at a rich man's game, carries a despised background, and can't find a happy medium. Neither can Paxton, who in reveling in athletic prowess and history textbook class struggles, nearly forgets that what makes sports great are the personal battles.

He can't separate the golf course from the tees.

The second greatest game ever played.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , , , David A. Steinberg


Comments

The Greatest Game Ever Played Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG, 2005

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

Jay Z Announces Second Budweiser Made in America Music Festival To Be Held In Los Angeles

Jay Z is one of the music's most successful entrepreneurs and he is now making...

Jay Z Announces Second Budweiser Made in America Music Festival To Be Held In Los Angeles

AC/DC Aren't Retiring After All, It's Just One Band Member

Finally, after three whole days of unchecked speculation online, AC/DC have...

AC/DC Aren't Retiring After All, It's Just One Band Member

Lady Gaga Startling Unedited Versace Ad Snaps Leaked

Lady Gaga has become the latest celebrity to find themselves in the middle...

Lady Gaga Startling Unedited Versace Ad Snaps Leaked


More recommendations