The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
Director: Robert Redford
Matt Damon plays a WW2 veteran (I like to imagine it is his character from Saving Private Ryan) who was a golf prodigy but has turned into a hopeless alcoholic. His only hope of reforming and “winning the big game” is to heed the advice of a mysterious caddy who wanders out of thin air. I want to know what mystical qualities people see in Will “Fresh Prince” Smith? Here he plays a damn near mystical golf guru, and in a recent awful turn, he plays Satan (on the extreme other end of the spectrum) in Winter’s Tale. When I look at Will Smith, I just see a normal looking guy with enough presence to carry most movies. That aside though, The Legend of Bagger Vance is kind of a divisive movie. I liked it the first time I saw it, when I was a young teenager, but now I find it a tediously cloying movie to sit through. I also roll my eyes heartily at this movie using the (and abusing) what should really be by this point a defunct hollywood practice as far as “the magical negro” is concerned. But as I sit here I can think of a half dozen or so movies which continue this alarming tradition of subservient black characters (mostly hotel clerks, or caddies) that always seem to have some magical or at the very least very insightful gifts. Anyway, this movie was directed by Robert Redford, and at the very least it looks stunning. Matt Damon and Will Smith both act like they are in a movie made in the 1950s, and indeed this feels like the kind of movie that would fit in, in that era. It’s a real golden age of America/Hollywood flick made in the early 2000s. “The Legend of Bagger Vance” has fine performances, and a real nice glossy finish, and is filled to the brim with quotes that could easily find their way onto motivational posters and hallmark cards, on the inside though, it seems as hollow as a tin cup (golf movie pun very much intended)…. That said, as a younger viewer I dug this one, and it is still a popular movie with many, so perhaps it is I who am out of touch.