Starring Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane, Peter Firth, Elias Koteas, Josh Flitter
Written By: Mark Frost (based on his book)
Directed By: Bill Paxton
Studio: Disney/ Buena Vista
Buy on Amazon.com link
First off, I must take issue with the title of this movie. The Greatest Game Ever Played? And it’s a film about golf. Golf?? Come on, man. My dad has dragged me out time and time again to the golf course and I certainly wouldn’t dub it the greatest. More like, The Most Frustrating Game Ever Played or The Most Tedious Game Ever Played.
So it was with a bit of reservation that I sat down and watched this epic tale of a sport that usually has poorly dressed men yelling “fore!” and putting from the rough. To my most pleasant surprise, this film actually managed to win me over and I set my aside my anti-golf prejudices and just enjoyed this feel good movie.
Set in the mould of Rocky or Rudy, this is the sports tale of an underdog competitor going up against seasoned professionals and end up going the distance. It’s specially designed to be a crowd-pleaser and isn’t necessarily original, but it’s played so well, you can’t help but go through the motions and cheer for the little guy time and time again.
Based on a true story, Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) is a caddy for a prestigious country club in Massachusetts during the early 20th century. He is working class (coming from a poor French-Canadian family) and is taught by his domineering father (Elias Koteas) to know his place in this hierarchical society. Francis, however, has bigger plans and has the impossible dream to play golf among the big guys and challenge his idol, Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). With the help of a most unlikely caddy 10-year-old Eddie (Josh Flitter) Francis overcomes the adversity, barriers and odds to get himself qualified into the 1913 U.S. Open Championship. And yes, as you probably guessed, our heroes come out victorious and you’re gonna jump out of your seat and go: “YES! OUIMET OWNED YOUR ASSES!”
Or maybe that was only me? Ah well. The only complaint about the movie was the over-reliance on computer graphics for the up-close shots of the golf balls going super long distances. What’s the matter, you couldn’t hire Tiger Woods as a stunt golfer to achieve those sweet shots?
The special features itself is a delight to watch. While the behind-the-scenes featurette is a bit on the standard side, the documentaries on the life of the real-life Francis definitely enrich the viewing experience and show the impact he made on the golf game and how he made it possible for the sport to be enjoyed by all, not just the upper class. The commentary from director Bill Paxton (that’s right, he directed this movie!) is also nice to view. You can tell he was extremely proud about the finished product and it was eye-opening to hear that a lot of the visuals were inspired by the Yellow Submarine film.
A View From The Gallery: On The Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played
Two Legends And The Greatest Game
Feature Film Audio Commentary: Director Bill Paxton
Feature Film Audio Commentary: Writer Mark Frost
From Caddy To Champion: Francis Ouimet
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound English and French
Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced For 16X9 Televisions
Favorite Scenes: The climatic tournament game between amateur Francis Ouimet and his professional English adversaries. For a golf game, I gotta tell you, that was some gripping stuff.
Running Time: 121 minutes