Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Legend of Bagger Vance' Scores a Bogey

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Legend of Bagger Vance' Scores a Bogey

Article excerpt

Watching The Legend of Bagger Vance is a lot like meeting someone at a party whose life has been transformed by some get-rich deal that they expect will, any day now, bring them their just rewards.

Just like those people, the movie is earnest, boring and zealous -- and you don't believe it for a second.

The thing they're trying to sell here?

Golf is Life. No -- golf is bigger than Life. It's the secret to Existence itself.

The Legend of Bagger Vance is the latest movie from Robert Redford, and it's utterly square and predictable: The sky glows when you expect it to glow, the music swells when you expect it to swell.

Redford has long walked the line between majesty and self-important but well-meaning banality, and I'm afraid he's tripped badly here, landing splat on the wrong side.

The Legend of Bagger Vance stars Matt Damon as Rannulph Junuh, the golden boy golfer of pre-World War I Savannah, a legend who comes back from the war a shell-shocked, alcoholic recluse.

Charlize Theron is his spurned lover, Adele Invergordon, "daughter of the richest man in Savannah," who organizes a $10,000 winner-take-all golf tournament to publicize the failing golf course built by her father.

It'll be a 72-hole, three-man tournament: Real life legends Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones -- and the fictional Rannulph Junuh, drunk and washed-up.

On cue, along comes Will Smith as Bagger Vance, a mystical caddie with an easy grin and a couple of golf bags' worth of platitudes.

"There's a perfect shot out there trying to choose each and every one of us."

"The rhythm of the game is just like the rhythm of life."

"Inside each and every one of us is our one true, authentic swing . . . something that can't be learned. Something that's got to be remembered."

And that's just for a start.

The movie's so relentlessly New Age-ish that it seems like little more than one of those tiny inspirational paperbacks that'll end up in a golfer's Christmas stocking.

It's not helped by its trio of main characters, a paper-thin group indeed.

Damon is a frequently terrific actor, but he makes no impression here: His Junuh is nowhere near as grizzled as he needs to be, and any suffering he's feeling remains a mystery to us. …

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