The Legend of Bagger Vance

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/11/05

Who better to remake The Natural than Robert Redford himself?

The Legend of Bagger Vance combines hats, knickers and golf clubs, three items which are not found in the Sundance catalog – although all are undeniably more Sundance than Butch.

It’s a rule-of-thumb in Hollywood that hats and knickers are to movies what the Hail Mary pass is to Football. They are inversely correlated to Box Office receipts. Then again, so are most of Robert Redford’s movies.

Bagger is from the good folks at DreamWorks, where that boy has been fishing off the “D” in the logo for long enough and should try some fresh bait.


Now I adore Charlize Theron, but she has two types of roles, the topless and the sincere. Bagger Vance is the latter. Newton’s law of starlet career dynamics clearly states you need both types for a fruitful career but can’t be both at once or risk matter/anti-matter annihilation. Evidently, there’s something about the nipple which distracts from a great performance, I don’t know what it is. And Charlize has blessed us with distractions aplenty.

Here Charlize, Matt Damon, and the rest of the cast tear into Southern accents and incessant metaphors like Harvey Weinstein tears into a bottle of Dom. Try playing Bagger Vance metaphor mix-’n-match:



“He wouldn’t know … from a …”

Milagro Beanfield War

River Runs Through It

“He couldn’t whoop … in a…”

Napster User

Pay Download Service

“He’s happy as … in a …”

Anna Nicole Smith

Lawsuit Settlement

“Melt like … on a …”

Carson Daly

Tara Reid

This movie ain’t perfect, but Will Smith sure is – and perfectly Oscar-worthy too as the mysterious and legendary Bagger. This guy’s charm and talent are limitless! Bagger knows the secret of the “authentic swing,” and it’s his gift to the world – he’s the Merchant of Vance!

“I always felt a man’s grip on his club was like his grip on his world,” Will tells Matt, not realizing that in real life Matt pays people to grip his club for him.

“The rhythm of the game is just like the rhythm of life,” says Will, as Matt ponders the rhythm of gripping his club, especially the Wood.

baggervance_whiteafterlaborday.jpg“Feel that focus!” Will advises Matt, as Matt visualizes the ball entering the hole, thus making club-gripping all the more satisfying. Will helps Matt move to a higher spiritual plane without having to sit next to the Dalai Lama at the premiere and grope for things in common.

As the players wind down the course, the camera shifts to ball’s-eye-view, something more commonly associated with the Playboy Channel than a Robert Redford movie, unless we’re talking Jeremiah Johnson, of course.

Like American Beauty, this flick is narrated by a guy who’s dead. Talk about an unsettling trend! It’s got to get old Jack Lemmon down to be handed role after role where his character expires before the closing credits – or in this case, just after the opening ones. The odds of an elder actor surviving a movie are even worse than the odds of a 40-plus writer making a living in Hollywood. Now that’s bad!

Bagger Vance is better than the buzz, but it’s no Natural.

Photos Copyright ©2000 DreamWorks SKG


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