B+,B+Legend of Bagger Vance/C-,A
Dreamworks/2000/127/ANA 1.85

     The Legend of Bagger Vance opens with lush visual grace and an entertaining narrative introduction on the golf course by old duffer Hardy Greaves, as winningly played by Jack Lemmon. I opened my heart to this golf paean devoid of its usual cynical pumping. Mind you, I am no fan of golf, though I can understand its magic grip over masses of hopeful putters. But the script comes across as a perfectly raked sand trap, every grain in place without provoking the slightest interest. If this is what golf's all about, I've got to pass. To suggest that a golf game should stand in for life, as The Legend of Bagger Vance suggests, is little more than a double bogey on a pitch and putt course. You may not believe this, but The Legend of Bagger Vance makes Tin Cup, a limp golf comedy, come across as a comparative classic.
     Director Robert Redford helms The Legend of Bagger Vance with surprisingly little feel for the excitement of a contest. The pacing is so even you could randomly flip flop scenes without altering the overall feel of the film.

Adele introduces the great golfers to Savannah. ©Dreamworks

     The chief virtues are the beautiful photography, the beautiful Charlize Theron, the green, green grass and a very charming Will Smith, who, unfortunately, has little more to do than spread a beautiful smile and slip in caddy golf/life aphorisms in between the holes. Oh yes, there's a story too. Savannah golf darling Rannulph Junah leaves the greens for World War I and comes back a changed man, unable to recover his swing for life. With the stock market crash and the beginning of the depression, real estate heiress Adele Invergordon must save her dear departed Daddy's dream of a grand Savannah  resort community. Under financial duress, she comes up with a scheme to hold a dream gold match between Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, the reigning kings of golf. Local boy Junah gets to walk the golf course again as a nod to local spirit. And, out of the night, Bagger Vance appears, ready to bring Junah back to golfing respectability.
     Matt Damon plays Rannulph Junah, the golfing sun of Savannah, like a two foot putt. Theron is ice cold beautiful as Adele, but the script gives her little to sashay around about. Young Hardy Greaves is given an inconsistent run of the course by juvenile J. Michael Moncrief, a failure one part actor and two parts director.
     If I thought golf was boring before watching The Legend of Bagger Vance, I am yawning now. Happily, right after turning off Bagger Vance, I managed to catch Tiger Woods walking The Masters grass to his fourth "major" victory in a row. Bobby Jones would have been proud of Tiger, at least as portrayed in the film.
     Stunning variations of red in the welcome ceremony. Check out the red of Theron's dress, the red of the flag, the red fenders on Hagen's car,  the red of the wooden platform. The green grass is none too shabby either. Man, I wish I could get my grass to look like that. Maybe it was a special effect. Consistently outstanding sharpness with no edge enhancement. Depth of color and scenic detail are positively three-dimensional. Very nice range of skin tones. The night scenes pack pizzazz with a magical glitter. Blacks are rich, lustrous and detailed. This DVD delivers one hell of a theatrical experience. You can hear the wind delicately blow every blade of grass in the very good DTS surround sound mix.


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