Golfer's story is just par for the course in `Bobby Jones'

April 30, 2004|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Bobby Jones may have been the greatest golfer who ever lived - he remains the only man to win golf's grand slam, four major tournaments in the same year - but Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius isn't going to convince anyone who isn't already a believer.

Though lovingly crafted and beautifully photographed, the movie does little to make Jones seem compelling, or even all that good. We're constantly told that Jones is a great golfer; even his fellow linksters keep saying it. But it seems to take forever for him to win his first tournament.

More unfortunate, there seems little of compelling interest regarding Jones' life outside the golf course. The script tries to make something out of a conflict with his grandfather, an industrialist who thinks athletic prowess, even in someone as gifted as his grandson, is a waste of one's God-given abilities. But that struggle is more between Jones' father and grandfather.

Jim Caviezel, destined to forever be remembered as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, portrays Jones as a man struggling to jibe his talent with his personality, but never quite gets across the idea that the struggle is all that enormous; when Jones finally starts winning tournaments and fulfilling his promise, one's more likely to think "It's about time" than yell "Hooray!" And Claire Forlani as his wife hardly gets to register at all, so underwritten is her part.

Golfers will find much to love here; the movie has the same languorous pacing as the sport, and the mere site of Scotland's venerable St. Andrew's golf course should be enough to make any dedicated duffer happy.

Others may tire of the hundreds of golf swings, followed by gazes that track the arc of the ball, and wonder what all the fuss is about. It's a shame the film may leave them asking the same thing about Jones, one of the 20th century's premier athletes.

Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius

Starring Jim Caviezel, Claire Forlani

Directed by Rowdy Herrington

Rated PG (Language)

Released by The Film Foundry

Time 121 minutes

Sun Score**

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