The Greatest Game Ever Played

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Went to an Award Screening for The Greatest Game Ever Played today, alone. Couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go, since it was short notice, a matinee, and an older flick. Oh well. There were like 8 people in the theater, so it was like a nice big private home theater!

Someone should give Bill Paxton an award. He made a film that actually made golf fun and exciting! (Some would argue that golf is fun and exciting, but I would counter by saying yes, but only for the player – not necessarily the spectator!) In any case – this period film is about the 1913 US Open Tournament, in which Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) defeated the reigning champion (and his idol), Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane).

Oh crap, I just gave away the story. Well, that’s the problem with historical biopics – you know how it ends! Still, even Titanic was exciting, and we knew the boat was going to sink. As such, showing Ouimet’s growth into an amateur golfer is interesting, even though he’s blocked at every way by his immigrant Frenchie father, who believes that he is doing the right thing by preventing his son from experiencing the agony of defeat. Nonetheless, Ouiment proves everyone wrong when he makes the qualifying round, and then amazingly zooms up the ranks in the tournament. Oh – and there’s a nice bit about the class wars in the early 1900s, with golf being a “Gentleman’s Game”, and since Ouiment was “merely a caddy”, it’s frowned upon that he dare try to achieve.

Director Paxton makes excellent use of the camera, and as such, makes the game sequences truly riveting. We fly with the ball. We watch from underneath the player as they swing. We see what they see, and how they “focus”. It’s all really really well done. The music by Brian Tyler works well, even if the main theme bears a rather uncanny resemblance to James Horner’s Legends of the Fall. It made a paltry $15 million at the box office, but I don’t think it cost much more than that. It’s certainly worth a look-see on video when it comes out in the spring.