From Walt Disney Pictures comes THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED . . . the crowd-pleasing underdog epic that's based on an inspirational true story! Young amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf -- HOLES, I ROBOT) has not... more »hing but talent and a seemingly impossible dream to challenge the world's greatest player, his idol Harry Vardon. Soon, with the help of his spunky 10-year-old caddy Eddie, Francis boldly breaks down all barriers with a thrilling display of unrivaled drive, skill, and heart . . . and challenges the golf pro for the U.S. Open Championship!« less
Annie W. from YERINGTON, NV Reviewed on 11/29/2009...
This is a great family sports movie.
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A stirring slice of golf history, well-rendered on film
chefdevergue | Spokane, WA United States | 10/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One doesn't have to have read Mark Frost's book (he adapted his book for the screenplay) to enjoy this movie. Obviously, the book contains much more detail regarding the personal histories of Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, JJ McDermott & others leading up to (and following) the 1913 US Open, and there was no way that Frost could have included all of the minute detail without at least doubling the length of the movie. One also misses the discussion of the technology available to the turn-of-the-century golfer, as well as some of the geo-political forces that led to Vardon & Ted Ray making their tour of the United States.
However, what one does get is a beautifully filmed story that has the predictable feel-good nature one would expect from a Disney film, without being sappy. The principals bear a striking resemblance to the historical figures (right down to Eddie the caddie), and the historical match is accurately rendered. While one doesn't get the book's stroke by stroke narrative, one does get to enjoy the energy of the galleries as well as the immense pressures bearing down on the tournament leaders.
I only have a couple of significant complaints about the movie. One is with the wholy fictional relationship (concocted for the purposes of this film) between Francis Ouimet and the upper class young lady. It smacks uncomfortably of Jack-Rose relationship in Titanic, and when the movie focuses on this relationship, it skates dangerously close to outright corniness. Fortunately, once the tournament begins, this subplot is thankfully relegated to the background. By & large it interferes only minimally with the story.
My other beef is with the fact that Harry Vardon comes off as a far too one-dimensional character, as he as portrayed as an ambitious, single-minded, golfing machine, very nearly bereft of passion or emotion. Frost's book provides far more depth to Vardon than one will find here. One would not know from the movie that his American tour came not long after his recovery from a bout with tuberculosis (first striking in 1903, after his 4th British Open) which not only derailed his career (and almost ended it) for several years, but came close to killing him. If the audience could more fully appreciate all of the tremendous obstacles Vardon had overcome, they might be more sympathetic towards him. While not cast as a villain, Vardon's role in this film definitely is that of Ouimet's nemesis more than anything else, which strikes me as unfair.
The one other thing which strikes as unfair is the fact that the audience really has no idea just how tremendously talented these men were. Frost's book devotes considerable space to the equipment of the time, which was downright primative compared to the clubs and balls today's players use. I can only imagine the kinds of scores Vardon & Ouimet might post with today's equipment. However, audiences who don't understand the nature of golf technology in 1913 may only see shots that can be seen a hundred times or more on any PGA tour event on any given weekend, and they may not appreciate the true greatness of these earlier players. Having made this complaint, I have to admit that I don't know how the film could improve in this area. I would suggest that you read the book.
However, this is a movie that one can enjoy without having any knowledge of golf in general or the 1913 US Open in particular. Unlike so many films that claim to be "based on" or "inspired by" true events (but in fact have almost no resemblance to historical events), what you see in this film by & large is what actually happened. Most people should find this to be enjoyable."
Great family movie.
Delirium | St. Louis, MO USA | 04/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We watched this movie in the theaters with the whole family, including two kids under 10. I'm not a golfer, but my husband loves the sport. The movie has great story line, funny moments, a bit of romance and some thrilling episodes. It would make for a nice evening of quality family time.
Please note that the DVD is in widescreen format. That's the only reason I'm not buying it at this time, I'm hoping for a full screen version."
Beautifully crafted, heartwarming film: 5+
Carolyn Rowe Hill | Ann Arbor, Michigan | 05/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love golf, you'll love this movie. Even if you don't love golf, you'll enjoy it. The cinematography is phenomenal. The makers of this movie used a specially designed camera in many scenes to follow the ball from shot to stop. One of my favorite shots was Ted Ray's blast through the woods, between the trees, and onto the green with the camera following the ball all the way! As others have said, it's the best golf movie yet, largely because the camera work and film editing added much to the magic of this true come-from-behind story. I also think the close working relationship between director Bill Paxton and the author of the book, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Mark Frost, added to the movie's charm and authenticity.
Francis Ouimet and Harry Vardon had something in common. They were `common', according to the societal standards of their respective times. One is American, the other English, born a generation apart. Vardon grew up to become a world-renowned golfer, but could never join "the club" in his own homeland because he came from the underclass. However, he did become a hero to growing boys in Europe and America, including young Francis Ouimet, who grew up across the street from the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Francis began caddying at a tender age, and there were those who saw something special in him. These gentlemen, and Ouimet's mother (at least in the movie), encouraged him to take his love of golf from the caddie stage to the player's arena. With the odds against him from several directions, he played his way into the hearts and minds of his American countrymen and the world, and into the record books, by playing as an amateur in the 1913 U.S. Open and winning.
Shia LaBoeuf (Holes) is perfect as Ouimet, and Stephen Dillane portrays the stoic, haunted Vardon. The movie overall was well-cast, and Josh Flitter, who plays Eddie Lowery, almost stole the show!! It's a good bet you'll be mesmerized by this wonderful film. Just remember, in the immortal words of 10-year-old Eddie, when holding onto that golf club "Easy squeezy, lemon freezy!"
Carolyn Rowe Hill "
The usual Hollywood distortion, but not a bad film.
Mark Wilsonwood | Grapevine, TX | 02/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's pretty much inconceivable that Hollywood will ever tell a true story in a completely accurate way. A certain amount of dramatic license is forgivable, and probably even necessary in order to compress the story into a couple hours. Even fabricating a sub-plot involving a fictional love interest is okay if it doesn't take over the film. So, despite the historical inaccuracies in this movie (with regard both to Francis' personal life and the details of what occurred during the Open), this is an enjoyable film that captures the spirit and the essential facts of this classic David and Goliath story."
BILL PAXTON PULLS OUT ALL THE STOPS
Waitsel Smith | Atlanta, GA USA | 05/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To fully appreciate THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED, it's good to compare it with BOBBY JONES, STROKE OF GENIUS. Both films cost between $20M and $25M. Both were about the game of golf at the turn of the 20th century. Both focused on young, underprivileged underdogs who went on to become the best amateurs in the game, beating out their professional competition. And both show the influence of the great Harry Vardon.
BOBBY JONE, STROKE OF GENIUS, of course, is about Bobby Jones, only amateur ever to win all three tournaments of the Grand Slam in the same year. And he did it while also working on three college degrees simultaneously - thus the "Genius." Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ) did a decent job playing Bobby, although he didn't look anything like the man. And Aiden Quinn was good as Harry Vardon - even down to his golfing ability - although he was all but cut from the film because he wouldn't shave a goatee he had grown for another film.
While BOBBY JONES is about an entire golf career, THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED is about one tournament: the 1913 US Open, held at Brookline Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. That was the year that a caddie - Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from the country club - beat the two top British professionals, including Harry Vardon, and won the tournament - the biggest upset in golf history. Shia LeBeouf (Holes) does a great job playing Ouimet, and Stephen Dillane (The Hours) is superb as Vardon.
The biggest difference between these two films is in the direction. With BOBBY JONES, Rowdy Herrington (Road House) opted to do a very straight drama in the tradition of Chariots of Fire. It turned out to be far more than he could handle. The script is weak. There is far too much time spent on the young Bobby Jones, which contributes very little to the main plot. And visually, it is, well, boring. There are only a handful of creatively interesting shots.
But in THE GREATEST GAME, director Bill Paxton (Apollo 13, acting) pulls out all the stops. Not only is the script taut, but every part of it is essential. And the visuals are incredible, including effects that have never been seen in a sports film before, let alone one about golf. The art direction - including sets, costumes and graphics - is also superb, creating a totally believable and visually sumptuous world. You don't have to love golf to love this movie. That can't be said about BOBBY JONES. While both films have heart, THE GREATEST GAME also has fun.
When I first saw THE GREATEST GAME, there were a couple of things that bothered me. I didn't feel the love relationship between Francis and Sarah Wallis (Peyton List) was believable because their ages seemed so different. I just couldn't see her falling for a boy. I also had trouble accepting a ten-year-old caddy, Eddie Lowery, played like a true ham by Josh Flitter. It seemed like a typical Disney element (the kid who is smarter than the adults that surround him), and I just didn't buy into it. Then I discovered that that really was the way it was! Which doesn't make it any easier to believe, but at least it's true.
These are two very different films about similar events. While BOBBY JONES STROKE OF GENIUS is a good film (3 to 4 stars), THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED is a great film (5 stars). Both directors had a vision; but Bill Paxton has proven that he can carry his out.