Near the turn of the twentieth century, young Harry Vardon becomes a champion golfer but learns that his amazing skill is no match for the class boundaries that exclude him from "gentlemanly" English society. A dozen years later, a young American, Francis Ouimet, fights against the same prejudice, as well as his own father's disdain, for a chance to participate in the U.S. Open against his idol -- Harry Vardon. The struggles of both men for acceptance provides the background for an amazing contest of skills.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
The Greatest Game Ever Played loses points for having a terrible title. But it is an inspirational "true" story from Walt Disney studios and so every inch of melodrama is squeezed from it accompanied by appropriately "swelling" music. Which is not to say I didn't like the movie. I did enjoy it for what it was.
As a person who golfs it was both interesting and frustrating to see how golf was played in the early part of the century but much more could have been done with the game of golf itself in the film. (I think that non-golfers who don't know the game will find it hard to keep track of who is ahead in the matches which is a problem in the film's editing.) Instead, the story concentrates on two sub plots. The conflict between Shia LaBeouf and his father Elias Koteas. Shia is a natural golfer but his father is totally against it. The other sub plot is the desire to win back the US Open cup for England. This pits world famous champion Stephen Dillane against influential lords who are portrayed as gross, oyster-slurping, upper-class snobs. There is also a small love story aside between Shia and Payton List. A standout in the film is little Josh Flitter who plays Shia's plucky caddy in a comic relief role which I found amusing but other may find annoying.
As for the film-making, the colors of the film are muted which gives it a nice look and since it's a period piece the costumes are interesting. Since golf itself is not very visually exciting the director chose to use Matrix style visuals such as having the camera fly behind the golf ball as it sails to the hole accompanied by a really huge swishing sound. There is one shot as if taken underneath glass looking up at a putt.
If you can forgive the melodramatic musical swells, you can find this film an enjoyable 2 hours and if you have any interest in golf it's one of the few movies about golf. If you are in the mood for an underdog film this one makes par.
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