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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Always try your best. Chase your dreams no matter how unattainable they may seem. Practice is the route to perfection. Mistakes are a chance to learn. There is more to life than money.
Positive Role Models
Maurice Flitcroft is a dreamer who decides to become a professional golfer, despite never having played the game. He does bend the rules, such as lying on an application form and breaking into a golf club at night to practice. However, his positive approach to life is contagious and he shows great perseverance in trying to achieve his goals. He is also a loving father and husband, though his fatherly advice is occasionally questioned. He is supported by his wife, Jean, and twin sons, Gene and James. His stepson, Michael, initially puts his status at work above his family. Some supporting characters behave snobbish toward Maurice and make fun of his lofty ambitions.
Based on a true story, the central characters are British White working class. Their family set-up includes a stepson who is treated just the same as his twin brothers. Some diversity in terms of race and ethnicity among the supporting cast. An English actor makes a brief appearance playing a French golfer.
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Violence & Scariness
Reference to dying on the job -- a coffin is seen being carried. Black and white footage of World War II shows bombs being dropped. Two incidents of people being accidentally hit with golf clubs and golf balls. In a dreamlike sequence, a character jumps for the stars and a golf ball in the sky -- they fall to the ground, but come to no harm.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Affection between a married couple includes kissing and embracing. When two characters are asked why they like dancing, they respond with "to impress birds."
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A couple uses of "f---ing." Also "whore," "bastard," "blimey," "shut it," "s--t," "flipping heck," "bloody hell," "tossers," "snobs," "hell," "plonker," "frigging," "burke," and "taking the piss." "Good Lord," "good God," "Jesus," and "Jesus Christ" are used as exclamations. Character mistakenly says "testicles" in Spanish.
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Products & Purchases
While the central character dreams of fame, he also says that there's "more to life than money." But he does get to experience the high life, flying first class, driving in a limousine, and enjoying champagne, caviar, and diamonds. He also sells his story to the newspaper in order to get money to join a golf club. Mention of Guinness.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters -- including the main character -- are regularly seen smoking, including in the workplace. A golfer is shown smoking a pipe. Drinking in the pub, at home, at social gatherings, and at work. One character gets out of their car and appears to be slightly drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Phantom of the Open is an uplifting British dramedy based on a true story. It has plenty of positive messages along with some salty language and smoking. Starring Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft -- dubbed "the world's worst golfer" after he tricked his way into playing at the 1976 British Open -- the movie celebrates the idea of never giving up on your dreams. Flitcroft is an opportunist with grand ideas. But his approach to life is inspirational, and he has plenty of wise words along the way, such as "practice is the route to perfection" and "mistakes are a chance to learn." Flitcroft's family are, on the whole, supportive of his endeavors, especially wife Jean (Sally Hawkins). But he does come into conflict with his eldest son. Flitcroft and others smoke regularly, and there's some drinking. While it's not frequently to excess, in one scene a character appears to have driven home while under the influence. Strong language includes some use of "f---ing" and "s--t." But these points aside, this is a heartwarming film for teens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With its stranger-than-fiction plot, this British comedy oozes a feel-good factor that will leave audiences feeling warm in its glow. Directed by Craig Roberts, The Phantom of the Open is a classic underdog story. The fact that it's true only makes it all the more remarkable and will have you reaching for the internet to find out if it really did happen. We'll save you some clicks ... it did. Maurice Flitcroft's appearance at the 1976 British Open has gone down in golfing history and earned the shipyard crane operator the nickname, "the world's worst golfer" -- a moniker the man himself objected to. As you might expect, a story as bizarre as this has plenty of laughs. However, it's also a tale about chasing your dreams, no matter how far-fetched they might be.
It would be easy for Flitcroft to be a figure of fun. But his delusions of grandeur are never played for cheap laughs, which is a credit to both the writing, directing, and Rylance's excellent performance. Rylance takes center stage, but he is matched by an equally noteworthy Sally Hawkins, who plays Flitcroft's wife, Jean. Meanwhile Rhys Ifans has fun playing the stuffy organizer of the golfing tournament and Flitcroft's adversary. As for Roberts, having made a name of himself in front of the camera in the likes of the sweet Submarine, he is proving himself to be a young director more than capable of handling a feature-length film with an A-star cast. Even if golf is not your thing, this is a heartwarming, inspirational film that is well worth taking a swing at.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.