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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Swing Away is a family-friendly dramedy about a golfer (Shannon Elizabeth) who flees to her grandparents' village in Greece after being suspended for poor sportsmanship. Once in Greece, she connects with a 10-year-old local who yearns to master the game. There's some language (including a couple of uses of "bastard," "s--t," and "pissed"), as well as a scene of adults smoking and drinking at a tavern, but otherwise it's fine for preteens and up. Families who watch together can discuss what sportsmanship means, why the game of golf is so beloved, and what the movie teaches audiences about Greece. Themes also include humility and teamwork.
What's the story?
SWING AWAY opens at a professional golf tournament, where Greek-American golfer Zoe Papadopoulos (Shannon Elizabeth) misses a putt and throws a tantrum so big that she does the "unforgivable" -- burying her putter in the green. Earning herself an indefinite suspension from the LPGA, Zoe (whose parents are deceased) escapes to her grandparents' village in Greece for a much-needed time out. Soon after arriving at her Ya Ya and Papou's home, Zoe bumps into Stella (Viktoria Miller), a pre-teen girl who yearns to learn golf. Zoe wants to mentor and coach Stella, so she agrees to become the golf pro at a local private club, which is owned from afar by a greedy American businessman named Glenn (John O'Hurley). In exchange for Zoe's star power, the manager, a local, agrees to open the club to the regular folks in town. When Glenn returns with plans to sell the course, Zoe, Stella, and the entire community must band together to defeat him.
Is it any good?
Predictable but still sweet, this movie is equal parts family-friendly golf comedy, David vs. Goliath drama, and Greece travel ad. Star Elizabeth is believable as a Greek-American golf pro who returns to the comfort of her grandparents' home after the career low -- and ego blow -- of being suspended. The best parts of Swing Away, which feels as familiar as a Hallmark or Lifetime special, are when Zoe is either with her grandparents or with little Stella, who's all wide-eyed potential. Stella cleverly exchanges Greek-language skills (Zoe is rusty) for coaching, and she and Zoe have an easy rapport.
O'Hurley's Glenn is a pretty stereotypical one-dimensional rich villain (all that's missing is a twirlable mustache or a Mr. Burns-like cackle). It's hard to believe that a businessman would enter a deal in Greece and then call the Greek language "gibberish"; he's just that irredeemable. And although a romance is implied between Zoe and Stella's father, Marcos (Manos Gavras), her friendship with Stella is far more compelling. The third act shifts to a community-wide scale as the entire village starts to show an interest in golf -- and supporting Zoe. When it comes down to the village versus Glenn, even the Greek Orthodox priest is out on the greens. With God on their side, how can the village lose?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of golf movies. Why do you think the sport lends itself to underdog movies?
How is Swing Away an example of a David vs. Goliath story? What did you think of the ending?
What did you learn about Greece -- both the country and the culture?
- In theaters: October 13, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: December 26, 2017
- Cast: Shannon Elizabeth, John O'Hurley, Karl Theobald
- Director: Michael A. Nickles
- Studio: Freestyle Releasing
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Humility, Teamwork
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language, some drinking and smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.