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Roy 'Tin cup' McAvoy, a failed pro golfer who lives at the run-down driving range which he manages with his sidekick and caddy Romeo in the West Texas tin pot town of Salome, ends up signing over ownership to a madam of 'show girls' to pay off debts. His foxy novice golf pupil, female psychiatrist Dr. Molly Griswold, turns out to be the new girlfriend of McAvoy's sarcastic one-time college golf partner, slick PGA superstar David Simms, who drops by to play into Roy's fatal flaw: the inability to resist a dare, all too often causing him to lose against lesser players, in this case gambling away his car. Falling for Molly, Roy decides to become her patient; in order to earn her respect, he decides to try to qualify for the US Open, after starting off as Simm's caddy 'for the benefit of his experience'. His talent proves more then adequate, but over-confident negligence of risks, while pleasing the crowds, is murder on his scores, while Simms spits on the fans but never wastes a point... Written by
From an acting standpoint, "Tin Cup" may be Kevin Costner's best movie. Here he plays Roy McAvoy, a burned-out, washed-out, down-n-out golf pro a way out in West Texas. He's broke, drunk most of the time, and convinced of his own worthlessness -- hence his attraction to poetry and a puffed-up opinion of his own heroics on the golf course (he's got to have something hold on to). Roy is just this side of being a complete bum -- this is one of the few movies I've seen on any subject that actually addresses the financial condition of its loose-living hero.
"Tin Cup" is all about the dire straits of this character, and Costner is more than up to the challenge of playing this guy convincingly. Costner for once packs everything into his performance: charm, wit, sarcasm, hopelessness, bitterness, and more than a little arrogance. He is funny, laidback and shows remarkable athletic skill. He tops his career-best work in "Bull Durham" here (not surprising, since this is another Ron Shelton film).
The movie also works great as a classic heroic Quest story. McAvoy is on a mythic quest, not for the perfect 18 holes, certainly not for money, but for love. "Tin Cup" could easily have been titled "Quixote Jousts at Windmills in West Texas." Best of all, McAvoy KNOWS he's on a quest; when he refers to it in his dialogue, it sounds pathtically funny, but when you hold this story up to the ancient pattern of the heroic quest as described by Joseph Campbell, it really rings true.
Probably the most interesting aspect of "Tin Cup" is that it also works as a metaphor for what Costner has done with his career. Here's a guy who could have played it safe and easy after all those Oscars, but took off on crazy flights of fancy like "Waterworld" and lost badly. (He continued to play unsafe shots after 1996, with almost every movie that followed this one.) McAvoy plays the game his way, on a dare, on a bet, with outrageous egotism and a willingness to lose it all -- publicly. That's what Costner has done at his own game. Was "Open Range" the dreaded safe shot that corrected his course?
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