Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has strong language for a PG and a child uses four-letter words. Jones' swearing is an issue in the story and ultimately he learns not to do it any more. There are some brief mild sexual references (a character is teased that she "doesn't pet," a man is said to have broken "all eleven" of the ten commandments and refers to debauchery). Characters drink and smoke, sometimes to excess. The portrayal of minorities is consistent with the era, but may be seen as insensitive by today's standards. (No mention is made of Jones' Augusta Golf Club's famous battles to keep women from becoming members.)
What's the story?
BOBBY JONES: STROKE OF GENIUS chronicles the remarkable early years of golf legend Bobby Jones. Jim Caviezel stars as the adult Jones, who became the only golfer to win all four of the sport's top titles in the same year, refused to be paid for playing golf, turned down millions of dollars in endorsements and awards, and retired at the age of 28. The film begins with Jones as a sickly child, growing up next door to a golf course, imitating the swings of the men who play and attracting the attention of the Scottish golf pro. Eventually, he enters his first big tournament as a teenager. Skeptical journalist O.B. Keeler (Malcolm McDowell) becomes an awestruck fan. Meanwhile, Jones struggles to control his temper and faces family problems as his grandfather disapproves of his playing golf, his mother wants him to study literature, and his wife Mary (Claire Forlani) wants him to spend more time with their family. Plagued by an ongoing, mysterious ailment, he won't give up until he's won the grand slam of the four top titles.
Is it any good?
A great man and a great golfer like Bobby Jones deserves a better movie than this one, which is as clumsy as its title. Clearly, this movie was made for love of the game and for love of Jones, but it tells us rather than shows us, and then tells us again, and it takes a very long time doing it, too. Like the game it depicts, it moves very, very slowly. There are lots of long, loving shots of the sun-dappled greens, slow-mo swings and swelling strings, glimpses of golden light accompanied by hooting panpipes, and quotes from Kipling, Will Rogers, Tennyson, and then Kipling again.
The film is nice to look at, and actor Jeremy Northam's turn as the dissolute but resolute golf pro Walter Hagen adds some flavor to the story. But the other performances are as flat as the dialogue.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the comment by one character that "money is going to ruin sports." Was he right? They could also talk about the question asked of Jones at the end of the movie, "What are you going to do for yourself?" What did he do for himself, and why?