The Legend of Bagger Vance Movie Poster Image

The Legend of Bagger Vance



Lovingly told drama isn't for everyone; some iffy stuff.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know


Tension, brief but brutal battle scenes in WWI flashback, off-camera suicide.


Sexual references and situations, including a proposal to trade sex for a favor.


Brief mild language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Character abuses alcohol, drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has a brief but bloody battle scene, brief mild language, brief sexual references, and inexplicit sexual situations. A woman offers to trade a man sex for a favor. She does not go through with it, even though it is clear that she loves him, in fact, probably because she loves him. A man commits suicide (off-camera). Junuh abuses alcohol in an attempt to forget his experiences and his pain.

What's the story?

In THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, a golden boy, young, handsome, a champion golfer, wins the heart of Adele (Charlize Theron), the most beautiful debutante in Georgia. His roots in Savannah are so deep that even his name seems spelled with a Southern accent -- Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon). Then he goes off to fight in World War I, and comes home "confused, broken, and unable to face a return to a hero's welcome." He does not speak to Adele or see any of his old friends and he does not play golf for more than 10 years. And then Adele needs him to play the two greatest golfers in the world at an exhibition match that can keep her from bankruptcy. A mysterious stranger named Bagger Vance (Will Smith) arrives to give Junuh the guidance he needs to get back in the game.

Is it any good?


Your ability to appreciate this movie will depend on your tolerance for larger-than life stories with allegorical, even epical, overtones. Some people will find it simplistic and clichéd. They will see Bagger Vance's relationship with Junuh as too much like having Yoda coach Luke Skywalker. Vance tells Junuh things that will either strike you as wise or fortune-cookie corny, depending on your point of view. But others, particularly those who have spent some time in the South, will recognize it as not too far off from the way things actually occur in that part of the country, especially on the golf course. They will enjoy the sun-dappled greens and the pleasures of seeing a man find a swing that makes a sound like thunder when it drives the ball.

This movie has a lot in common with A River Runs Through It. Like that one, this story begins with an old man remembering the sport and the setting of his youth, with golf, like fly-fishing, as a metaphor for man's interaction with nature and fate and even love. But A River Runs Through It was more complex and more comfortable with ambiguity. Its message was that a person can love completely without understanding completely. This movie, with its more traditional journey of redemption, is not as wise or moving. But it is a good story, lovingly told, and beautiful to watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences in how the characters when things go badly. Older kids may want to talk about the potential racism inherent in assigning a sort of magical "otherness" to the lone black character. Families can also talk about how this movie shows the importance of integrity, and about how we find our own "authentic swings," the ones that our hands know before our heads do.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 3, 2000
DVD/Streaming release date:April 3, 2001
Cast:Charlize Theron, Matt Damon, Will Smith
Director:Robert Redford
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sexual content

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Parent Written bynconwell January 31, 2012

Incredible, Massively Underrated

Every one of us has faced an adversity (or two) in our lives where we decide flight is the choice instead of fight. Events occur that knock us off our projected course and reshape us as an individual without any sense of direction of how to get back; and this is a story of one of those journeys. Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon) is an up and coming phenom golfer from Georgia who is sent off to fight in World War 1. When he returns home, his confidence is completely shattered and proceeds to spiral into the depths of alcoholism. Upon inheriting a golf course, Junah’s old flame, Adele Inergordon (Charlize Theron)decides to solve the golf courses financial woes with a one-on-one golf tournament with the two best golfers in the world, Bobby Jones (Joel Gretch) and Walter Hagen (Bruce McGill). The town pleads for an addition from Savannah to represent them in the tournament and Rannulph Junah is selected. Severely reluctant, being an understatement, Junah decides to play and quickly realizes (along with everyone else) that he is a shell of his former self. One night while Junah is horrifically hitting golf balls, literally, out of nowhere appears Bagger Vance (Will Smith), and becomes Junah’s caddy for the match. Using a combination of life experience and an unexplainable knowledge Bagger Vance helps Junah find what he has lost, his “swing.” Director Robert Redford uses golf as a medium to explain this, painful and emotional, story of a man who once had everything and lost it all fighting for his country in World War 1. He shows us that “remembering” involves reconnecting; in this case Junah is assisted by Bagger Vance in remembering his “swing” and conquering his fears, and most importantly that whatever may be buried deep in the past was only just a moment ago. Redford uses rather deep cinematography to focus in on the symbolism of everything around us, and how listening and feeling reconnects us to what we knew. This movie is a little on the cerebral and emotional side, and involves some soul searching to connect with the true point of the film. The performances by Damon, Theron and Smith are terrific. (The film is rated PG-13 for language and some sensuality)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

not appropiate

a good movie but not appropiate 4 kids
Parent Written byjhartsock81 April 12, 2011
Slow movie, but what did you expect from a Golf movie. Is a scene where main female character is shown in her underwear, but its modest for the time period.
What other families should know
Great messages


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