A Gentleman's Game (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I know. You never heard of this movie. You probably never will again. Neither had I, and it turned out to be a complex, intelligent little sports movie about a child golf prodigy who gets the benefit of an education about life while he's sharpening his golf game.



It impresses most of all because it is filled with surprises. Every time you think it is going to go after a cliché, it goes in a completely different direction. You think the kid's dad is an asshole? Not so. He's a regular guy who has days when he's an asshole, like the rest of us.  You think the Golf Yoda is going to turn the kid's game into Nicklaus's? Not so. He refuses to teach the kid how to play, and he never goes back on his word. He only gives him one lesson related to golf:

Golf isn't that important. It isn't life. 

This must be the most unmarketable film of all time. Every message in this film is something that you'd want your kids to hear. It is about decency, integrity, sincerity, and trying to grow up with perspective. It would be a great PG Disney film. Unfortunately, it is rated R because the dialogue is realistic. That's what life boils down to in Hollywood. If you make a movie for kids that shows them what the world is like and gives them some approaches to take when they encounter that world, the film will be given a rating that assures that those kids will never see the film. Kids are only allowed to see movies which are unrealistic.

So you have this sweet little coming-of-age movie, and no audience. I guess the producers finally figured that out, and A Gentleman's Game never had a theatrical release.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic format

  • director's commentary

  • "making of" featurette

On the other hand, there's no reason why adults won't like the film. It looks sumptuous, was cast perfectly, and is acted beautifully. In addition to the stars, it features rounded performances from Gary Sinese and Philip Baker Hall, two of the greatest character actors in films today. The story has an emotional fullness to it, a sense of how life is more than contrived drama and moments engineered for the camera. There are no last-minute rallies or miraculous chips from the rough. There are no "Rocky" moments of ultimate sports triumph. A man who lost his integrity reclaims it, and a kid who admires him decides he isn't going to give his own integrity up in the first place.

Nice job. 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.6/10, based on an insignificant number of votes, but I pretty much support that high score.
  • with their dollars: I guess it went straight to video


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, I don't know how to score it. It is a great sports movie for kids and teens, ala Remember the Titans. Unfortunately, it is rated R because golfers and caddies talk like real golfers and caddies. All I can tell you is that I enjoyed it as one of those small, personal movies that has something worthwhile to say.

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