Underdog sports stories are nothing new; sometimes they’re so compelling, a genius at a movie studio decides to make a sequel (Major League II) or four (Rocky II-V). While those happen to be fictional David vs. Goliath stories, the sports epics that most capture the imagination are those that are actually true. In that spirit, golf now has its Seabiscuit.
"The Greatest Game Ever Played" – already a book – was released by Walt Disney Pictures in theaters last Friday night (Sep 30). We mention the Walt Disney part in case you decide to take the kids; it has a PG rating and is sure to offend no one.
We don’t want to spoil the story, but frankly, you know the ending before the movie starts. It wouldn’t be the greatest game ever played if Goliath kicked the crap out of David. An amateur player from a working class family, Francis Ouimet shocked the golf world when at the 1913 U.S. Open, flanked by his 10-year-old caddie, he defeated his idol, the defending British champion Harry Vardon. The story behind it all is one centered on class and privilege in the early 1900’s.
Just like you don’t need to be a basketball fan to appreciate Hoosiers, or a hockey fan to feel the patriotic euphoria during Miracle, you don’t need to even understand golf to enjoy this movie. Roger Ebert echoed that sentiment by saying "I am not a golf fan but found The Greatest Game Ever Played absorbing all the same…"
As far as its place among golf movies? It’s no Caddyshack, but if you love the game of golf as we do, it’s easily worth the $10 price of admission. Or $40 if you take the family. Or $75 if you buy popcorn and soda too.