The Greatest Game Ever Played

Rated 3.0

Director Bill Paxton and writer Mark Frost (adapting his own book) recount the 1913 U.S. Open, when 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) won an upset victory over Englishman Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane), the greatest pro golfer of the day. The movie dutifully recites all the standard follow-your-sports-dream clichés with an artless directness that’s almost disarming, aided by lavish attention to period detail. Performances on the whole are sincere and understated, though Elias Koteas (as Ouimet’s grumpy father) struggles vainly with an indeterminate accent, and Josh Flitter (as Ouimet’s 10-year-old caddy) seems to have been time-machined in from 2005. To help make golf as much fun for the spectator as it is for players, Paxton uses a lot of swooping Busby Berkeley-style camera work.