The Greatest Game Ever Played
What have the makers of The Greatest Game Ever Played done with Shia LaBeouf, that loose, off-kilter kid from Holes and Constantine? As Francis Ouimet, the true-life 20-year-old ”peasant” caddy who swatted against the blue bloods at the 1913 U.S. Open, LaBeouf trods too solemnly through this puttering Disney sand trap, frowning down at an awful lot of golf balls but rarely cracking a smile for us folks in the gallery. At the same time, the movie is so hungry for love that the orchestra shrieks, caps fly into the air, and the slo-mo oozes in when the lad merely forces a final play-off…and there’s still 20 minutes to go! (At the end-end, grown men cry into their giant mustaches, a soft piano reprises the orchestral thunder, and a peculiar last shot pays homage to that sports classic Casablanca.) Disney evokes Miracle and The Rookie in its marketing, but this is Nine-Iron Will, and the big postgame question is why director Bill Paxton decided to follow up his helming debut, the 2002 ax-murder drama Frailty, with an inert family golf movie.