At the time, the sport of golf was still considered a gentleman's game that was off-limits to the non-privileged. But ironically, both Ouimet and Vardon were from working class stock, which catalyzed an unseen bond between the two. Director Bill Paxton and screenwriter Mark Frost capitalize on this angle of the story to make it an exciting underdog fairytale whose characters break the boundaries of class structure. At the turn of the century in America, working class folk remained working class folk throughout their lives. There just wasn't an opportunity to better oneself. But Ouimet and Vardon in a way, stuck it to the man, and that's what makes the film enjoyable and inspirational.
The film is well acted by all involved, especially Shia Lebeouf as a turn-of-the-century immigrant kid who shows the world that it's not about how much money you have or who your father is; rather, it's what kind of heart you have inside and how willing you are to overcome your obstacles. Shia successfully portrays the dual image of a kid who's still growing up, but who can also put on the Tiger Woods face to challenge the world's best in a rigorous, nerve-shattering competition.
As Francis's caddy, is a trash talking, hooky-playing 12 year-old Eddie Lowery, portrayed brilliantly by Josh Flitter. Not much bigger than the bag he carries for Francis, Eddie more than makes up for with his flamboyant attitude and confident demeanor. Flitter steals nearly every scene he's in with his inspirational one-liners that not only put Francis at ease, but also make the audience laugh. Get used to this kid, because we're guaranteed to see more of him in the near future.
We even learn a little bit about the evolution of golf and the changes the sport has undergone since that era. At the time, a round of golf wasn't halted due to rain. In fact, Vardon and Ouimet slugged it out in a downpour throughout much of their championship round. Wooden or plastic tees had not been invented yet, so a ball was elevated on the tee box by wet sand shaped by a cylindrical mold. Remaining true to history was important to the filmmakers, and that insistence adds enjoyment to the film watching experience.
The Greatest Game Ever Played is a nice little story that follows the somewhat formulaic mold of Remember the Titans and The Rookie. It's a bit lacking in the emotional depth of some of the best sports movies, but nonetheless, it's guaranteed to bring goose bumps of inspiration to even the most hardened of sports movie fans. It's no Miracle or Field of Dreams, but like those two films, The Greatest Game Ever Played successfully weaves into its fabric, the atmospheric nostalgia of its place in American history.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, French; Closed Captioned
Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; French: DTS 5.1 Surround
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; featurette.
* Audio Commentary
o With director Bill Paxton
o With writer Mark Frost
o Two legends and The Greatest Game
o From Caddy to Champion: Francis Ouimet
o A View From the Gallery: On the Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played
Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase packaging
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