The Greatest Game Ever Played

  • Review Date: April 10, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Predictable but inspiring family sports movie.
  • Review Date: April 10, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 120 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some efforts by upper classmen to keep working class golfers out of the tournament.

Violence & scariness

Some anger displayed by father, which might worry younger viewers.

Sexy stuff

Francis has a crush on a pretty, wealthy girl: they exchange looks.


Very mild.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some discreet drinking at a party and rowdy drinking and smoking in a working class pub.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie features sustained and occasionally eruptive family tensions (father doesn't want son to play golf). Characters smoke (cigars, pipes, and cigarettes) and drink (the working class drinkers are especially rowdy in a pub scene). A couple of bystanders tease a caddy who is especially short. A budding romance between protagonists insinuates sexual interest. One golfer is haunted by images of ominous men in dark suits and tall hats, left over from a childhood encounter.

Parents say

Not yet rated
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Kids say

What's the story?

Based on the real-life careers of two brilliant golf champions -- British Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) and American Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) -- THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED traces their very different childhoods. As both have working class backgrounds, they must -- on different continents -- fight class prejudice in order to play. Harry learns to caddy and play, becoming an international champion, but not allowed to be an official member of the club he represents. Similarly, young Francis (Matthew Knight) grows up on the edge of a golf course and shows a natural talent and passionate interest, but his father discourages him, insisting he learn a trade. No surprise, Francis, who works as a caddy and then as a clerk in a sports gear store, becomes so good at golf that he eventually enters the 1913 U.S. Open as an amateur. Here he's competing against his idol, Harry Vardon, as well as Harry's buddy, the large-bodied, cigar-chomping Ted Ray (Stephen Marcus).

Is it any good?


Inspiring in the most predictable sports-movie ways, The Greatest Game Ever Played also shows golf's class problems. While the players battle it out, the game is reimagined by director Bill Paxton and cinematographer Shane Hurlbut as a series of grand, sweeping shots, sometimes taking the ball's point of view and at others, the subjective states of the players (enhanced by CGI).

Because he plays so stunningly well, Francis becomes something of a celebrity, annoying and eventually gratifying his stubborn father (his mother, Mary [Marnie McPhail], is supportive throughout, but quieted by her husband's outrage). But for all its interest in the class and gender issues of the day, the movie is most insistently focused on Francis' perseverance and passion. His trajectory is standard (see any recent sports movie, from Miracle to Remember the Titans), but it is also exciting and heartening, especially for younger viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the conflict between father and son: how does Francis' desire to play golf threaten his father's pride and sense of identity? What role does Francis' mother play in the men's disagreement? Are there still class distinctions in professional sports today?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 30, 2005
DVD release date:April 11, 2006
Cast:Justin Ashforth, Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane
Director:Bill Paxton
Studio:Buena Vista
Topics:Sports and martial arts, History
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some brief mild language

This review of The Greatest Game Ever Played was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A great conversation-starter to watch with your kids

This movie is about golf and is not about golf. I kept pausing it to discuss with my 9-year old son what was going on with the characters. There are issues of class, prejudice (not wanting to accept someone to the golf club who has a "French" mother), and issues about following your dream versus taking the safe road and learning a bankable trade. The movie is really beautifully shot. If your child likes golf, he or she will likely enjoy this movie, but I think even kids who aren't golfers will appreciate the story-telling, the plot, and the lovely cinematography.
Adult Written bymsfam April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 15 years old Written byMedia45 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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