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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
Up until that point the world of golf had been dominated by the British and Scots. Leading the British was Harry Vardon, aka The Stylist. Vardon had risen from lowly roots to become the best golfer in the world. Despite this, he found himself consistently excluded and looked down upon by “gentlemen” golfers. The 1913 U.S. Open was his chance to win acceptance into their exclusive society and overcome his self doubts about his class.
It was against this backdrop that Vardon and Ouimet, along with his pint-sized caddy Eddie Lowery, found themselves facing off in the greatest game of golf ever played.
The Greatest Game Ever Played is rated PG for some brief mild language
Bill Paxton hasn’t directed many films, but he does a decent job with this one. The film looks good and the period setting is convincing. He also uses every trick imaginable to make golf look exciting. He shoots the players from every conceivable angle. He shoots the drives in slow motion, high speed, above, below, overlapping, and everything in-between. Paxton also makes extensive use of computer effects. The ball flies at the screen, rolls over odd paths, is seen flying from its view, etc. It helps keep thing exciting, but it occasionally borders on ridiculousness like when we actually fly inside the ball and pass through the interior. One interesting trick is when Vardon tunes out the crowd, the trees, and everything but the hole. They all disappear from the screen and it’s just him in an open field.
Most of the performances in The Greatest Game Ever Played are quite restrained. About the only standout is Josh Flitter as Eddie Lowery, the spunky little caddy. He’s got spirit, attitude, and a good sense of the golf game. He’s a good sidekick for Francis though he looks like a clone of Gilligan and Spanky from The Little Rascals. Shia LaBeouf, who is usually cocky and loud in his roles, is good as Francis Ouimet. Again, it’s a really restrained performance but he manages to convey a lot of emotion without dialogue. I was also surprised to learn that Harry Vardon was a major part of this story. The movie is as much about him as it is Ouimet. Stephen Dillane plays Vardon and is quite likable though he represents the opposing side in the film.
The biggest problem with The Greatest Game Ever Played is that it’s predictable. You can tell how it’s going to end just from looking at the movie poster. Do you think they’d make a movie about an underdog that ALMOST won the U.S. Open? Because of this, it takes away from much of the suspense of the movie even if people aren’t familiar with the actual historical tale.
Also, as previously mentioned, the ball effects were overdone at times. I think this was more of an effort to spice things up than a major mistake.
Overall, The Greatest Game Ever Played is good for some light entertainment, but there’s not much memorable about it after you’re done viewing it. I recommend it most for golf fanatics and fans of Shia LaBeouf.
A View From the Gallery: On the Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played This is your standard “making of” video featuring interviews with cast and crew, behind the scenes footage, and more. They talk a lot about the elaborate golf effects shots in the film. They also talk about the actors having to learn to play golf and make convincing drives in the movie.
Two Legends and the Greatest Game This featurette details the real competition between Ouimet and Vardon. You learn a bit about what was real and what was fiction in the story. There are a lot of photographs of the real men, too.
Feature Film Audio Commentaries: Director Bill Paxton and Writer Mark Frost Two commentaries are also included. Paxton’s is very detailed and informative.
From Caddy to Champion: Francis Ouimet This is a 1960’s interview with the real Francis Oiumet who was an old man at the time it was shot. The interviewer speaks to him about his life and his legendary game against Vardon. They actually walk the real golf course where it took place while they chat. It’s a great addition to the bonus features.
The Bottom Line: