"Grace Under Pressure"
What You Need To Know:
Rated PG, STROKE OF GENIUS highlights Bobby’s early difficulties in controlling his temper. As the great sportswriter Grantland Rice once said, Bobby had the “face of an angel and the temper of a timber wolf.” Eventually, he manages to control his outbursts to become one of sports most enduring legends. In the end, however, “there are more important than winning championships,” and Bobby retires after winning the four biggest tournaments right in a row, to spend more time with his family. His golfing prowess even softens the heart of his grandfather, who reconciles with his son, Bobby’s father. The movie is slightly marred by too many obscenities and a couple references to astrology.
(C, BB, O, LLL, V, N, AA, D, M) Light Christian worldview with strong moral principles extolling grace under pressure, integrity and family, marred by a couple references to astrology and Zodiacs and foul language; 35 obscenities and three light exclamatory profanities, such as “My Lord!”; golfers throw clubs in anger in several scenes and woman gets hit in leg by one thrown club in one scene; a couple kisses several times, including at their wedding; very brief upper male nudity in at least one scene; alcohol use and drunken college student bothers famous golfer; many characters smoke; and, some legalism and antinomianism, and hero’s rival delights in being known for his debauched, rich lifestyle.
GENRE: Drama/Sports Drama
BOBBY JONES: STROKE OF GENIUS, starring Jim Caviezel as the American golfing legend, is a superlative achievement, one of the best sports movies ever made. Rated PG, it beautifully documents the career of Bobby Jones, a lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia who dominated the game of golf as an amateur from 1923 to 1930. Counting his appearance as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Caviezel now has the distinction of being in the two best movies so far this year.
The movie opens in 1936 with Jones returning to the majestic golf course at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he won a couple important matches before retiring in 1930. The whole town is happy to see the golfing legend, and the movie flashes back to Bobby as a young boy in 1908, playing golf in the field by his Atlanta home. Bobby was born a sickly child, and his parents find that going out on the nearby golf course with his dad has improved his health immensely. Bobby picks up his father’s passion for the game, but he also picks up a couple bad habits, such as pounding his golf club and cursing when the ball doesn’t go where he wants it to go.
Bobby’s strict grandfather disapproves of sports. He stopped Bobby’s father, now a lawyer, from playing professional baseball, and he wants his grandson also to become a lawyer. Naturally, all this creates some tension between the grandfather and Bobby’s father.
Eventually, Bobby learns some valuable pointers by watching Stewart Maidan, a local Scottish professional. At age 14, he amazes the American golfing world by winning the amateur championship of Georgia. Everyone in Atlanta, including his father, expects him to win the national, but his temper gets the best of him, and he loses just barely. The next few years will see him playing tournament golf around the country as an amateur, but only in the summer, so that he can finish college, like his mother wants, and become a lawyer, like his grandfather wants. The pressure of golf, and the pressure to live up to the expectations of his father and the whole town of Atlanta, keeps getting to young Bobby, an inwardly driven perfectionist. He fails to win any more tournaments until one day he accidentally hits a bystander in the leg when he throws his club in anger and is later diagnosed with varicose veins in one of his legs from pushing himself too much. Bobby apologizes to the golfing establishment, promising never again to lose his temper on the golf course. Soon, after some advice from his friend O.B. Keeler, the Atlanta journalist who documented his career, Bobby is winning tournaments, completely dominating the golfing world while starting a family and beginning a law career.
A simple plot synopsis doesn’t do justice to the loving care in which the filmmakers have crafted this story. Writer and director Rowdy Herrington has assembled a top-notch cast, several of whom give Oscar-worthy performances. Not the least of those performances is that of Mr. Caviezel, an extraordinarily talented actor who just now is coming into his own. As Bobby Jones, he displays deep inner strength and grace under fire. Jeremy Northam plays golfing pro Walter Hagen, Bobby’s roguish rival, and Malcolm McDowell, in perhaps the best performance of his long, active career, plays O.B. Keeler, Bobby’s journalist friend who documented his career. Also noteworthy is Brett Rice, as Bobby’s father, who, along with McDowell, brings a colorful cohesiveness to Bobby’s biography. Last but not least is young Devon Gearhart, whose charming enthusiasm as the young Bobby Jones captures the viewer’s rapt attention.
BOBBY JONES: STROKE OF GENIUS is superbly edited and photographed. The golf courses and the golf games are lovingly, even poetically, realized. The soaring music by James Horner lifts these images into the sublime.
STROKE OF GENIUS highlights Bobby’s early difficulties in controlling his temper. As the great sportswriter Grantland Rice once said, Bobby had the “face of an angel and the temper of a timber wolf.” Eventually, he manages to control his outbursts to become one of the sport’s most enduring legends. In the end, however, “there are more important things than winning championships,” and Bobby retires after winning the four biggest tournaments right in a row so that he can spend more time with his family. His legendary golfing prowess even softens the heart of his grandfather, who reconciles with his son.
Rated PG, STROKE OF GENIUS is a thoroughly captivating, well-acted movie with many positive lessons about grace under pressure, which is only slightly marred by too many obscenities and a couple references to astrology.