is stupid. If you disagree, you must be wealthy. When you dont
enjoy the sport, its difficult to watch a movie centered
on it. Movies like Caddyshack and Tin Cup thrive on the fact that
the culture surrounding golf is absurd. The Legend of Bagger Vance
doesnt deliver on any of its promises. Not only does it
fail to show interesting relationships or a compelling legend,
it doesnt even show an interesting golf game.
is given to us from the perspective of Hardy Greaves reminiscing
on a golf course in the midst of his fifth heart attack. He tells
a story from his early youth about Rannulph Junnah (Matt Damon),
a World War I veteran. Before going off to war, Rannulph was a
Savannah legend as golf champion. He won the affection of the
country club owners debutante daughter Adele Invergordon
(Charlize Theron). However, he disappears after the war, feeling
lost after experiencing the horrors of combat.
takes place in Savannah in the midst of the Depression. Adele
must cope with the suicide of her father and Rannulphs vanishing
act. She comes up with a plan for a golf tournament to revive
her fathers country club when faced with local businessmen
trying to take the land. This tactic is strangely forgotten and
shady business gives way to excitement over the tournament and
Savannah pride. Who could represent Savannah in this tournament?
Young Hardy speaks up in a town meeting and says that Rannulph
Junuh can do it. He can save the day. Rannulph is reluctant and
metaphorically declares that hes lost his swing. Hes
content to give it all up and drink away the rest of his days.
Vance (Will Smith, The Fresh Prince). He appears out of nowhere
in the middle of the night where Rannulph can struggle to regain
his swing out of the sight of those begging him to compete. Bagger
comes along to help him find his swing.
begins with lots of fanfare as the countrys two most famous
golfers Wlater Hagen (Bruce McGill) and Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch)
come to play. Rannulphs two opponents seem like stock characters.
Walter Hagen is the athlete drunk on fame, money and women while
Bobby Jones is the consummate sportsman and gentleman. Appropriately
enough for this film, they end up tying in anticlimactic fashion.
I tend to avoid giving away plot or anything close to an ending
but, in this case, there is nothing compelling or engaging about
the competition, so its not a big loss.
between Rannulph and Adele is also a disappointing side plot.
The two lovers are introduced to each other again, after Rannulph
returns home, when the little boy sees both of them through glass
jars set on a windowsill of his fathers local store. In
theory, it could have been an inventive technique, showing so
much while showing so little. However, as with the rest of the
movie, it only accomplished the latter. Their previous relationship
was only hinted at making it hard to care if they get back together
For a movie
called The Legend of Bagger Vance, there isnt enough about
Bagger Vance present to make him legendary. Baggers philosophy
is never really clear. He just spews out Buddhist-esuqe wisdom
about golf. His effect on Rannulph is closer to that of a cheerleader
than a mentor. Its also never clear what Bagger Vance is.
He comes from the middle of nowhere, not sent for by anyone, then
he returns to nowhere. Its fine to have a character that
is mysterious but Bagger Vance comes off as ambiguous.
is similar to another period drama directed by Robert Redford,
A River Runs Through It. Like Bagger Vance, that film uses a sport
as a metaphor for a characters life, fly-fishing. Fly-fishing
paralleled the characters development as people. However,
in The Legend of Bagger Vance, golf overshadows all of the relationships.
It doesnt strengthen the significance of them. This movie
had some good performances and it had some beautiful scenery but
it was structured poorly and leaves you feeling flat.