The Greatest Game Ever Played
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From Walt Disney Pictures comes THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED ... the crowd-pleasing underdog epic that's based on an inspirational true story! Young amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf -- HOLES; I, ROBOT) has nothing but talent and a seemingly impossible dream to challenge the world's greatest player, his idol Harry Vardon. Soon, with the help of his spunky 10-year-old caddy Eddie, Francis boldly breaks down all barriers with a thrilling display of unrivaled drive, skill, and heart ... and challenges the golf pro for the U.S. Open Championship!
"A charming, inspirational crowd-pleaser." -- SCOTT MANTZ, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD
"A welcome surprise for moviegoers of all ages... golf has never been portrayed this way before. Kudos to Bill Paxton." -- LEONARD MALTIN, ENTERTIANMENT TONIGHT
"Masterful." -- GENE SHALIT, TODAY
"The Greatest Game Every Played is one of the greatest movies ever ... " -- LARRY KING
"This is one of those come-from-behind-blue-collar-versus-high-falutin inspirational tales that pluck heartstrings." -- NEW YORK POST, LIZ SMITH
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On the positive side, director Bill Paxton has given his film an unusually strong cast and production values, as the period authenticity and performances are especially sharp. Young Shia Labeouf acquits himself serviceably as the determined young man, but Stephen Dillane steals the show from him as Harry Vardon, the reigning golf champion with similar working-class roots who turns out to be a class act himself. Unlike Ron Howard's film "Cinderella Man," where Russell Crowe's Jewish boxing opponent was portrayed as a deplorable thug much to the consternation of his descendants, this film scores points for giving us the real-life Vardon rather than a "bad guy" caricature. Paxton films the golf sequences with a welcome visual flare, using bright colors and some neat digital effects (particularly the sequences where Vardon "zones out" distractions and demons before taking a shot) to present the game of golf in a fresh way.
On the negative side, Disneyfied cliches still abound here. Elias Koteas does a nice job in his underwritten role as Labeouf's working-class French Canadian father, but their relationship is under-explored as the "daddy issues" cliche is worked out in the most unimaginative way possible, almost seeming lifted from "The Rookie." The father-mother dynamics (Ouimet's mother was Irish) are likewise presented in a predictable fashion, without any sense that we are watching a real family interact. Finally, the British nobility who support Vardon are portrayed as moustache-twirling villains who are dead set on using golf to assert their superiority over the lower classes, over-playing the film's underlying stereotypes of the noble poor and uncaring rich. Finally, the absolute worst aspect of the movie is Ouimet's 10-year old caddy, a real-life touch that is initially amusing before the screenplay sets him up as the all-wise sage who continually gives Ouimet the right advice about how to play -- even in the film's climactic scene on the last hole. After awhile, this kid's frequent 21st century-style wisecracks become a frequent distraction and reminder that we are watching a calculated product of Disney's manufactured inspiration factory. A little bit less from the caddy would have gone a long way here, keeping the audience from being pulled out of the movie's otherwise meticulous world. The religious aspect (both Vardon and Ouimet were Catholics) is also underplayed, being dropped after an early reference to Vardon's membership in the "Church of Rome" being an obstacle to his club membership in Britain.
The DVD is a nice edition that features numerous commentaries and making-of videos, including a neat B&W documentary featuring the real Ouimet talking about his victory in later life. It's not a great film, but it's decent. If you're a golf lover, you might particularly enjoy it, as it's certainly the closest thing to an exciting golf movie you'll find.
I really enjoyed watching it at work and enjoyed it just as much seeing it at home. I love true story movies and this one didn't disappoint. It taught me a little about British history. Which was nice to see for some part but reminding me how stuck up a nation we are/were was not so fun, haha!. The same was portrayed about the Americans though so it was all square in the end.
I like Shia LeBeouf and first saw him in Holes through the same job. He handles the role in The Greatest Game Ever Played very well up against older seasoned actors and actors from a whole different country and culture too.
If you want a feel good film with a difference then take a swing at this. Keep an eye for his Caddy too. Wonderful little actor.