‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ Movie Review (2005)

The Greatest Game Ever Played Movie ReviewThat’s quite a title to chew off isn’t it? I’d like to think “the greatest game ever played” was when I scored ten points versus St. Joan back in 7th grade. Agree to disagree eh? Seriously though, this is a decent film that will most assuredly crash into the ocean because it’s made for a market that doesn’t… um… what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yes, exist. The market for The Greatest Game Ever Played doesn’t actually exist. To borrow from the immortal Jerry Seinfeld “Who were the marketing geniuses that thought this one up?”

Let’s not discuss the unfortunate box office hell that awaits this well done movie. It seems more appropriate in this forum to discuss the merits of said film. It’s a historically accurate golf film! Did you see that coming? Did you figure the greatest game ever played would be golf? I had good money on curling. Anyhow, it stars Mr. Shia Labeouf who very quickly seems to be turning into an actor with chops. I’d hoped he could rebound from the savage mauling that was The Battle of Shaker Heights and he does. I like his performance as an amateur going for the US Open back in 1741. Wait no, 1913. It was a long freaking time ago. He is a poor kid from the wrong side of the street, provided you keep in mind that the right side of the street is filled with insufferable gentlemen who are all about excluding hardworking blue collar guys from US Opens.

The conflict of the film is just that. Can Shia compete in a world where all the breaks are against him? The expectation is that he’ll go off and become a plumber or something and give up this silly game. His father (Elias Koteas) pokes and prods him because he doesn’t want Shia being heartbroken when he fails miserably. Not exactly a vote of confidence Papa! The Greatest Game Ever Played spends little time setting up the premise; instead most of the movie takes place at the US Open which I found appealing.

I do have a few criticisms. The first is an overall lack of golf shots. It is all rapid cuts and odd angles so you never really see if these guys can play, which of course leads me to believe they couldn’t. My other issue is how squeaky clean it is. I get that Disney wanted it for the kids, but that brings me back to the original issue, a golf movie for kids. Let that marinate for a second. This film treats sport with all the reverence of such movies as Miracle or The Legend of Bagger Vance but it does so with er, kid gloves.

At the end of the day this is an entertaining and well acted flick. It would probably be ideal for a youth who was interested in golf or an afternoon matinee for an adult. It won’t really make you laugh or surprise you, but it does entertain throughout. A lay-up for the fine folks at Disney, even if the course they are playing on is on another planet. The title remains ridiculous though. They should have just called it Super Fun for Everyone with a story that will appeal to all but we can’t reveal what exactly that story is at this particular moment. Just come!



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