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The Legend of Bagger Vance

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Legend of Bagger Vance

Starring: Will Smith, Matt Damon
Director: Robert Redford
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Drama, Sports


*Also starring: Charlize Theron, Joel Gretsch, Bruce McGill, Jack Lemmon, Thomas Jay Ryan, J. Michael Moncrief, Dermot Crowley, Peter Gerety



Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Robert Redford's THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, a "Zen And The Art Of Golfing" story, stars Will Smith as Bagger Vance, a mysterious and philosophical caddy, and Matt Damon as Rannulph Junuh, a washed-up, local golfing legend. With Bagger's cheerful help, Junuh discovers "the authentic swing in each of us."

Set in Savannah in 1928, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE is a disappointing but gorgeous film that features lavish period sets and appears to have been shot only in the glow of the rising or setting sun. Its sweeping music tries to suggest epic proportions for a story that's badly lacking gravitas. Incidents unfold unhurriedly. The story moves along without much drive. And Redford interrupts an already slow game to admire the local flora. Just what golf needs, someone to slow it down.

The fictional story concerns a match between two real-life golfing greats, the effortlessly gifted Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch) and the flamboyant, ladies man Walter Hagen (Bruce McGill). Along for the ride is a local golfing hero, Junuh, whose life was shattered by the war. After meeting Bagger, he reluctantly agrees to return to his game after 10 years absence and become the third member of the match. Putting up the $10,000 prize money is Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron), Junuh's ex-girlfriend and owner of a nearly bankrupt golf course.

The problem with the production starts with the casting. The over-narrated film features Jack Lemmon's flat and uninspiring voice-overs. Theron, who has been quite good in films such as THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, is way over her head and completely unconvincing as a manipulative Southern belle. The minor actors playing Savannah's citizens ham it up with inflated Southern accents and exaggerated gestures. J. Michael Moncrief, as Hardy Greaves, the story's ever-present kid, quickly goes from cute to annoyingly saccharine. Matt Damon proves to be an acceptable but not an exciting choice as Junuh, giving us little reason to root for him. The only actor who brings much to his part is Will Smith, whose performance provides the only credible argument to see the movie.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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