Based on the best-selling book by Mark Foster Game tells the remarkable real-life story of Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf). He was a working-class immigrant kid who in the early 1900s turned the privileged world of golf on its ear. The story begins with Francis working as a caddie at a posh country club where he masters the game by quietly practicing on his own. His French-born father (Elias Koteas) thinks he's wasting his time and should be earning an honest wage but Francis is far too smitten with the game to give it up. Francis finally gets his big break when an amateur spot opens up at the 1913 U.S. Open. With a feisty 10-year-old caddie named Eddie (Josh Flitter) by his side egging him on Francis plays the best he ever has. He eventually finds himself facing off against the sport's undisputed champion Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) a U.S. Open winner and six-time British Open champion (a record that still stands today). Their legendary battle changes the face of the sport forever--but I wouldn't necessarily call it the greatest game ever.
Game is one of those juicy little biopics actors can really sink their teeth into. Starting with our young lead LaBeouf (Holes) is sufficiently determined as the guy playing against impossible odds. His Francis with his liquid brown eyes and winning smile is full of optimism and raw talent that propels him into the majors. And he looks pretty authentic swinging a golf club too. Still it may be time for LaBeouf to move on from the Disney family fare and do something grittier sort of like what he showed in Constantine. Dillane--who was so achingly good in The Hours as Virginia Woolf's beleaguered husband--also does a fine job as the legendary Vardon a man haunted by his own demons. In a way Game is a story about both men who have more in common than they realize. Although a top professional in the sport Vardon has to fight against the elitist golfing community's prejudices. You see Vardon grew up dirt poor on the plains of Scotland and because of his background was never permitted into any "gentleman's" clubs. The cast of colorful supporting players add to the film especially Flitter as the caustic but encouraging Eddie. He may be small but he packs a wallop. The last shot of the movie features Francis and Eddie walking off the golf course at sunset evoking the classic Casablanca ending line "This is the start of a beautiful friendship"--which apparently really happened. The real-life Eddie and Francis remained friends for the rest of their lives.
The main slice against Game is that it's about golf. Besides comedies such as Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore a serious movie about the game really isn't going to stir your soul say like football or baseball. But actor-turned-director Bill Paxton--who made his directorial debut with the creepy Frailty--takes the story and keeps it convincingly affecting. Much like Seabiscuit it's the real-life historical context that makes Game even more compelling. Paxton painstakingly details how the game was played at the turn of the century--and who was allowed to play it. The whole discriminatory arrogance surrounding the game makes the stakes even higher for our heroes. Vardon had a score to settle while Ouimet simply became the game's new hero paving the way for legendary whiz kids like Tiger Woods to step up on the green. Paxton also views Game as a Western. The final golf round between Vardon and Ouimet is the ultimate shootout á la the OK Corral in which the camera angles are inventive--a bird's eye view of the ball sailing through the air or gliding on the green into the hole. Plus he keeps the tension as taut as he can considering the less than exhilarating subject matter. Oh come on who isn't a sucker for a good sports underdog story even if it is golf?
He shoots, he doesn't "Score!" Oscar winner Russell Crowe is allegedly an aficionado of Scores strip club in Manhattan, reportedly dropping five grand on three strippers at Christmas-time, PageSix.com reports. The report also reveals that the hunky actor failed to convince the strippers to remove their G-strings or accompany him back to his hotel room.
Nicole Kidman's bank account isn't the only thing that's growing bigger these days. For the upcoming flick The Hours the star of Moulin Rouge had to endure two hours in the make-up chair (which Sky News says she "hated") to add some needed mass to her proboscis to approximate that of author Virginia Woolf. Ah, the sacrifices Nicole's willing to make for her art--first kissing Ewan McGregor and now this.
Disturbed director David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) has been tapped to head the panel of judges at the next Cannes Film Festival. And here we thought the only American entertainer the French liked was Jerry Lewis.
Third time's the charm? Former Seinfeld cast member Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) is trying her hand at a prime time sitcom, following in the failed footsteps of Michael Richards (Kramer) and Jason Alexander (George), whose projects both failed to last a full season. Watching Ellie debuts Feb. 26 on NBC, and will likely be cancelled by mid-April.
Comedian Chris Rock and wife Malaak Compton-Rock are expecting their first child, People magazine reports. The couple has been married for five years.
The Laramie Project officially opened the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday night. The Laramie Project deals with the murder of a gay man in Laramie, Wyo., whose only crime was being openly gay. Shocked viewers were heard to say, "That doesn't look like a bobsled." The Winter Olympics start in Park City, Utah about a month after Sundance ends.
Another day, another awards announcement. The Producers Guild of America has released their nominations for the best of TV and film. Shrek becomes the first animated film to be considered for the PGA's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. Shrek is also the first ogre and the first fully green creature to be considered for such an honor.
On Wednesday, Michael Jackson came in first and third in the television ratings for 18-49 year olds. Jacko's appearance on the American Music Awards propelled ABC to a victory in the most coveted demographic, while his repeated special on CBS finished third. No word on whether Jacko pulled in the highly coveted llama demographic.
Showtime and MTV have confirmed that they are working on a cable network targeted at gays and lesbians. This news crushes Jerry Falwell's plans to do the same.
Leaving No Doubt about her future matrimonial plans, a spokesman for Gwen Stefani said the 32-year-old Ska-rocker is getting hitched to Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, 34, Reuters reports. Rossdale admitted that Stefani was pressuring him to make a commitment last November.
Ray Charles has Australia on his mind? The 71-year-old legendary musician is headed down under in February for a series of concerts in Oz, Reuters announces.
In an ironic twist that only the U.S. court system could come up with, Rapper DMX has worked out an astounding plea agreement with Bergen County, N.J., prosecutors. DMX, who was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of maintaining a nuisance and one count each of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia in 2001--and charged with possession of a deadly weapon and child endangerment in 1999--will make public service announcements for kids telling them of the dangers of guns and asking them to be kinder to animals. Otherwise, they might become successful recording artists who cross over to making movies...
Martin Luther King's life (and 73rd birthday) will be celebrated in a Smithsonian exhibit starting on King's birthday this Sunday at Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Associated Press reports. The traveling exhibit, which features works of more than 100 artists who carry on King's work through their art, will visit six cities over the next two years.
Doubling their displeasure, twin teen stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have dropped out of So Little Time, their highly successful sitcom on ABC Family Channel. ABC cites the twins' demands for a $400,000 raise in their allowance as the sticking point. Mary-Kate and Ashley are currently looking to get onboard a movie ride, but can only do so if they're this tall.
The Highlands Grand opened with a gala fest Wednesday night. Attendees--including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jerri Manthey (Survivor) and former NBA hoopster John Salley--were treated to designer grub by Wolfgang Puck, choreographed dance numbers by Alex Magno (Madonna's Drowned World Tour) and places to sit.