More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.81%
Worth A Look: 25.68%
Pretty Bad: 16.22%
Total Crap: 14.86%

6 reviews, 38 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lucky Grandma by Jay Seaver

Vast of Night, The by Peter Sobczynski

High Note, The by Peter Sobczynski

Taking of Tiger Mountain, The by Jay Seaver

Trip to Greece, The by Peter Sobczynski

Night God by Jay Seaver

Alice (2019) by Jay Seaver

On a Magical Night (Chambre 212) by Jay Seaver

Driveways by Jay Seaver

Free Country by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Legend of Bagger Vance, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Collin Souter

"Legend Of A Guy Who Cleans Golf Shoes"
1 stars

Just what does make a legend? Don’t you have to do something that no one else has done before, that no one thought could ever be done? Don’t you have to somehow make your mark on the world?Or, can it be just showing up at some drunk guy’s house to give him some golf pointers?

According to Robert Redford’s unforgivably dull Legend Of Bagger Vance, that would be all you need to do. Oh, and become a spiritual golf caddie. You heard me correct. A spiritual golf caddie. I can’t think of another way to describe him, because, basically, we only see Bagger Vance (Will Smith) doing just that. He doesn’t play golf. He doesn’t sing songs or teach Matt Damon to “sand-da-floor.” He doesn’t even stay for the entire game. He does, however, have his own personal music cue every time he says his name, thanks to the awkward score from Rachel Portman.

The story concerns a small town in the middle of the baby boom—sorry, depression. Norman Rockwell’s Depression. Anyway, some guy opened a big golf course just before the stock market crash and decided to blow his brains out since nobody showed up. His daughter (Charlize Theron, doing her best Jessica Lange) inherits it and, rather than sell it, keeps it in hopes that people will come. Oh, yes, people will come.

She tries to recruit a drunk ex-golf pro who just came back from the war (Matt Damon). He drinks because he can’t let go of his past war failures. He seems reluctant to join in the tournament, of course, because, well, he might succeed (Good Will Golfing syndrome). He changes his mind after an annoying little tyke comes to his door and begs him to come play. Soon thereafter, Damon stands in his backyard and practices his swing, at which time, the legendary Bagger Vance (music cue!!!) shows up.

What does this guy have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. There, I just saved you eight bucks. Nothing, people! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! He just stands there. Drug addicts do more than this guy. Sure, he can sure clean a mean golf cleat, but so can I. In fact, I mopped my floor the other day and it looks sparkling clean. Used Sun-Pro. Yeah, I did, now go write a folk song about me, and I mean now! I sat there for two whole hours waiting for them to explain Bagger Vance’s big deal. He shows up, he coaches Matt Damon, he leaves before the game has ended.

And, yes, he did exist. Everybody saw him. They all talked to him. No spiritual element exists, even though Redford tries like an evangelist to make us believe in a correlation between golf and the spirit. Sorry, but Redford should really take some lessons from Dorf. Golf has always been a silly sport, and it may be time for all of us to accept that.

The movie starts out with the aforementioned little tyke as a full grown man (Jack Lemmon) who falls over while playing golf, has a slight heart attack, and proceeds to narrate the whole movie. Of course, the little tyke does not exist in every single scene, so how can he narrate? I don’t know.

In his narration, he explains that the tournament would last two days, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. And, boy, Redford shows every minute of it. Nothing like going to the movies to watch a golf game. In case you don’t play golf or can’t follow the razor-this plot line, Jack Lemmon needlessly talks you through all of it with the excitement of a drooling fly-fisherman on a valium trip.

Do you like watching golf on TV? I can’t help but think of George Carlin’s bit about golf on TV (“It’s like watching flies f***”), which may be why I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when the little tyke looked into the camera with the glint of childlike sincerity in his eye and said, “Golf is the greatest game there ever was.” I like motorcycle ice hockey myself.

Anyway, to sum it all up, nothing interesting happens. Matt Damon tries to bring back his Will Hunting character at the beginning with his speech on brain cells, only to bore us for the rest of the film with a character we don’t care about. The always bland Charlize Theron plays his semi-love interest. They had an affair a decade ago, and every once in a while the flame comes back, but not very convincingly. Will Smith’s first attempt at a dramatic role in quite a while might have been good if his character had been given more to do than just stand there looking vaguely mystical.

I believe you can make a great movie about anything. Chess may not be very interesting, but look at the beautiful Searching For Bobby Fischer. Math may be boring as well, but look at Stand And Deliver. Golf puts me to sleep quicker than a Merchant-Ivory film festival, but I still enjoyed Caddyshack. Heck, even Tin Cup had some redeeming entertainment value.

The Legend Of Bagger Vance takes a dry, sluggish and eerily zombie-like hobby and makes it even less interesting. Maybe that would make this movie a legend.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/04/00 02:25:26
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/09/14 Joe Smaltz Like watching golf on TV. Or watching paint dry. 2 stars
8/18/09 Dr.Lao Misses most of what mde the book great, but the cast was clearly trying to make it work 4 stars
4/25/06 Carol Baker Again this between Average and Worth a look. Will Smith was pretty good here. 3 stars
12/01/05 Michael A Mix Of Currents: some good, some hidden 4 stars
8/18/05 ES bagger please! = why watch 2 stars
5/29/05 bill mcfarland An enchanting movie that makes you believe in Angels 4 stars
7/04/04 R.W. Welch It helps if you're into golf, I'd guess. Nice cinematography. 3 stars
1/13/04 Santiago If you have never played golf, you have no idea what the movie is about. 5 stars
12/20/03 Kent Worth seeing. Good moral and message 4 stars
12/09/03 Samuel A pretty decent film... 4 stars
9/03/03 Alex Too slow for most, but let's face it a man's grip on his club is like a man's grip on life 5 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Pretty stupid. And BTW, I like golf. . . probably because I'm a big fan of drinking. 2 stars
11/28/02 Kyle I don't like golf or Damon, but I thought this movie was pretty good. 4 stars
11/19/02 John C Its important not to confuse Thoreau with James Bond... Awesome Movie!!! 5 stars
11/19/02 Bill Hindu holy book Bhagava-gita = Bagger Vance Film is not about Golf at but about Life! 5 stars
7/03/02 Phil M. Aficionado It never quite got its act together to rise above the middle tier of films. Just so-so. 3 stars
6/06/02 Patrick Riley Simply the best film of the year, Bagger Vance rules!!!! 5 stars
12/25/01 ryan very disappointing worst golf movie since caddyshack 2 2 stars
12/21/01 Andrew Carden VERY Disappointing Smith Flick With Boring Screenplay and Bad Acting. 1 stars
6/05/01 keith langman sitting on few amazing scenes 4 stars
4/10/01 Monday Morning Understated story, beautifully filmed. Not everything can be an action flick, you dopes. 5 stars
4/09/01 Jake Tedious game. The world revolves around Damon's character again. Ugh! 1 stars
2/16/01 Joseph Roseberg The movie is not about Bagger Vance at all. But a relaxing diversion for the evening anyway 3 stars
12/31/00 kevin Okay movie, could have been better. At least i like golf C+ 3 stars
12/03/00 KoHawk Boring movie, does nothing for me 2 stars
12/02/00 Angela Murtagh Matt Damon was cute as always but it was nothing to write home about...boring! 2 stars
11/27/00 Fred Moving film. Another good performance by Matt Damon. Enjoyed Smith too. 4 stars
11/26/00 tnt The cast was not Redford nor Freeman..fix it!! 4 stars
11/21/00 Kirsten Predictable, yes...but it still got me. 4 stars
11/16/00 Mark Cinematography is not bad, screenplay sucks though. 3 stars
11/14/00 lil' pebble "I lost my swing" was a metaphor for life. We should all have a Bagger Vance to guide us. 5 stars
11/13/00 poetchuck Interesting, if implausible story 4 stars
11/07/00 Darren Smith Charlize Theron has great teeth. The slack-jawed pain in the ass kid got too much time. 4 stars
11/06/00 Wayne Good performances by Damon & Smith. 4 stars
11/04/00 Jerry Steele This movie is CRAP! 1 stars
11/03/00 Greg Wonderful Moving Film 5 stars
10/31/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble White America's revenge against Tiger Woods. 1 stars
10/27/00 Peterson Toscano Entertaining, but devoid of a social heart, a white, middle class dream come true 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum



  08-Feb-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Robert Redford

Written by
  Steve Pressfield

  Matt Damon
  Will Smith
  Charlize Theron
  Robert Redford
  Morgan Freeman

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast