Damon is rogueishly appealing as the hero who distinguishes himself as such even when surrounded by men of noble character (even one of his mildly caddish competitors turns out to be honorable at heart.) J. Michael Moncrief is a standout as a precocious but earnest golf-obsessed boy who won't give up on his idol, and whose faith galvanizes Junuh. As Bagger Vance, Smith is winsome if a little precious--speaking in the roundabout riddles of Yoda and the “wax on, wax off” philosophies of Mr. Miyagi, punctuated by the chortlingly good-natured ribbing of Cliff Huxtable, Bagger is not only Junuh's figurative guardian angel, he is so ethereal one half-expects that at any moment a brood of glittering faeries will lift him into the air and magically transport him to his next good deed. Starring Matt Damon, Will Smith, Charlize Theron and J. Michael Moncrief. Directed by Robert Redford. Written by Jeremy Leven. Produced by Robert Redford, Michael Nozik and Jake Eberts. A DreamWorks release. Drama/Romance. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content. Running time: 126 min
The Legend Of Bagger Vance
As an inspirational pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps feel-good film set in the world of championship golf, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” swings, but as a romance it merely putts. Matt Damon stars as Rannulph Junuh, a pro golfer who is out of touch with the game and himself after returning home from fighting in the war, sinking into alcoholism to block out the horrors he experienced. An opportunity for redemption presents itself when his former flame, Adele Invergoron (Charlize Theron), asks for his help in revivifying her failing golf resort by participating in a high-profile tournament against two of the sport's top players. He reluctantly agrees, but finds he's “lost his swing”; to his good fortune, an enigmatic caddy named Bagger Vance (Will Smith) appears from nowhere to proffer cryptic, Zen-like advice that resuscitates Junuh's spirit as much as his performance on the green.