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"THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE"
(2000) (Matt Damon, Will Smith) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Moderate Mild Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor None None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Moderate Mild Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Beset by personal demons but aided by a mystical caddie, a former golfer returns to the game to compete against two of the sport's best in an exhibition match arranged by his former girlfriend.
PLOT:
As introduced and then narrated by an older golfer, Hardy Greaves (JACK LEMMON), the story revolves around Rannulph Junuh (MATT DAMON), the best amateur golfer in the Southeast during the 1910s. Known for his near perfect game, Junuh also won the heart of Adele Invergordon (CHARLIZE THERON), the daughter of the richest man in Savannah, Georgia.

Unfortunately, WWI came along and after enlisting and suffering the horrors of war, Junuh returned a broken man, hoping to forget and be forgotten. As the years went by, Adele got on with her life, but when the Great Depression hits and her distraught father commits suicide over the failure of his newly opened, oceanfront golf resort, the tenacious young woman must figure out what to do with the debt he also left her.

Realizing she has to draw attention to the resort, she decides to sell everything so that she can put together a ten thousand dollar exhibition match featuring golf's two best players, Walter Hagen (BRUCE McGILL) and Bobby Jones (JOEL GRETSCH). Although she convinces the two of them to appear, the Savannah locals won't give their approval for her plan unless they can get a local player to participate.

When they can't think of anyone, ten-year-old Hardy Greaves (J. MICHAEL MONCRIEF), a golf fanatic, suggests that Junuh could give them a run for the money, despite the fact that he only knows of the former golfer's game through his father's stories. Rushing off to tell Junuh of the good news, Hardy finds a disillusioned young man who's more interested in drinking and playing poker than returning to the game.

Nevertheless, and due to some prodding from Hardy and Adele - with whom he never resolved the status of their former relationship - Junuh decides one night to see if he's really lost his swing. While doing so, he meets Bagger Vance (WILL SMITH), an amiable but obviously poor black man who literally walks out of the darkness and into Junuh's life.

Filled with down-home, sage advice and philosophical sayings, Bagger offers to be Junuh's caddie and subtly convinces the former golfer that he can not only return to the game, but that he can also compete against Hagen and Jones. As the two-day, 72-hole exhibition begins and sportswriters such as Grantland Rice (LANE SMITH) cover the event, Junuh - with the help of Bagger - tries to get both his game and his life back in order.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into golf or are fans of anyone in the cast, they just might, but this doesn't seem like a film that will otherwise be much of a draw for most kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT:
For some sexual content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MATT DAMON plays a former amateur golfing sensation who returns from WWI a tortured soul and would rather drink and have pessimistic thoughts rather than return to the game or his former love, Adele. As such, he drinks quite a bit, but eventually comes around with the help of others in rediscovering both his game and his life.
  • WILL SMITH plays a mysterious figure (possibly an angel or God) who suddenly shows up in Junuh's life, offering down-home wisdom and philosophy that help the man become a better golfer and person. He briefly uses some profanity.
  • CHARLIZE THERON plays Junuh's former girlfriend, a tenacious young woman who will do whatever it takes to save her recently deceased father's golf resort, including offering to have sex with Junuh so that he'll compete in her exhibition.
  • J. MICHAEL MONCRIEF plays a ten-year-old boy so enamored with Junuh's local legend that he convinces and then helps the former golfer regain his game.
  • BRUCE McGILL plays a conceited golfing champion who's known for being a ladies man. He drinks and smokes some.
  • JOEL GRETSCH plays another golfing legend, a Southern gentleman who realizes that golf is only a game.
  • LANE SMITH plays a New York sportswriter who's arrived in town to cover the exhibition and Junuh's return to the game.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. That rating comes from some sexual content in the form of a woman offering to exchange sex for a man's word that he'll compete in her golf exhibition. There's some non-explicit talk about where they'll "do it," and she removes her dress preparing to do so (we see her in her slip and garters and this all occurs before a 10-year-old boy who's pretending to be asleep). Beyond a quick kiss, nothing else happens, although some other scenes include brief passionate kissing.

    Profanity consists of several "s" words and a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases, while violence consists of some wartime footage showing soldiers falling to the ground injured or dead (but nothing is graphic) and a man committing suicide by shooting himself (we only hear the shot and see the gun in his hand afterwards).

    Various characters smoke and drink, with some being somewhat drunk and/or discussing what happens when one drinks. Some bad attitudes are present as are some tense family moments. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your family, you may want to examine our detailed content listings more closely for specific examples of what occurs in the film.

    For those concerned with the flashing of bright lights on the screen, a few strobe-like moments of that occur in a WWI battle scene.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People have drinks at a dance.
  • Hagen has a drink.
  • As Grady searches for Junuh, he sees several bottles of liquor in that man's house. When he finally finds Junuh, he and others are drinking and/or drunk, but Junuh states that there isn't enough liquor around to make him drunk enough. He then goes on about how drunk "is drunk enough" and then offers a description for Grady about what happens when one drinks (which brain cells die first while stating that every drink one takes kills 1,000 brain cells, etc.).
  • Junuh then drinks more in several successive scenes.
  • Junuh has a drink.
  • After completing a round of golf, Hagen asks if anybody's drinking.
  • People have drinks at a reception, where Hagen orders a double Scotch while Junuh also drinks.
  • Adele has wine with dinner with others.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • In a scene set in WWI, we see various dead soldiers lying on the ground after a battle, but beyond being dead in the woods, none of them are bloody or gross looking.
  • We see some men apparently urinating outdoors up against some trees, but don't actually see the urine streams.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Grady has a bit of a bad attitude toward his father for taking a job as a street cleaner during the Depression (although Junuh later sets him straight on that).
  • Junuh initially has a pessimistic, defeatist attitude toward life and apparently left his relationship with Adele hanging unresolved for a decade or so.
  • Hagen offers Junuh the opportunity to join him on his exhibition tour with the rules that he'll always win and will take seventy percent of the gate.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The sight of an older golfer apparently having a heart attack may be unsettling to some viewers (although the victim turns out to be okay and later continues playing golf).
  • Some may find the following as tense: In a scene set in WWI, various soldiers are hit by gunfire and drop to the ground as explosions go off around them, but none of the violence is graphic or bloody (the soldiers simply fall to the ground).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifles/Explosives: Seen/heard in action in a scene set in WWI (with many soldiers being injured/killed by their use, but they're never seen in action other than some rifles being carried by other soldiers).
  • Handgun: Used by a man to commit suicide (we hear the shot but only see the gun in his hand afterwards).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Full of sh*t," "Bash the living sh*t out of it," "You damn twit" and "Jeez."
  • Adele's distraught father commits suicide by shooting himself (but the actual act isn't seen, although we do hear the shot and see the gun in his hand afterwards).
  • We see some men apparently urinating outdoors up against some trees, but don't actually see the urine streams.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound of a gunshot might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 2 "s" words, 10 damns, 8 hells, 1 S.O.B., 3 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "Oh God" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see Junuh and Adele passionately kissing and then taking their action into a bedroom where they begin to disrobe (no nudity) and then lie down on a bed and continue to kiss (we don't see any nudity or other activity).
  • Hagen is noted as being a ladies man and when Adele first goes to see him, he puts a golf ball directly into a woman's ample cleavage as she lies on the floor (and then gets up and walks out with the golf ball still there).
  • Adele shows up Junuh's place at night, hoping to convince him to play in her exhibition. He's somewhat drunk and tells her that it's a bit late to be out looking for romance. She then bluntly asks him if he'd play in the match if she had sex with him. He says that he would, but she then worries about Grady who's seemingly asleep on a nearby couch (he's not, but Junuh convinces Adele otherwise, and from that point on Grady covertly listens and watches in amazement). She then states that she thought convincing him was going to be more difficult and then bluntly asks him where he'd "like to do it." Sitting in a chair, he replies, "Right here is fine." She then removes her dress and we see her in her slip and garters. She then asks, "Shall I just run and jump on you, or would you like some preliminary romance?" He chooses the latter and she comes over and kisses him just once, stating that's all the romance she has in her at the time. When she cries and then blames that on feeling sad for Savannah, he asks if she'd take her close off for another city. Nothing else happens between them as she gets dressed and then leaves.
  • The next day, Junuh states that he'll enter the contest and tells Adele (in a room with other men) that he wishes she had finished what she started since he'll now have nothing to show for agreeing to participate.
  • Junuh and Adele briefly, but passionately kiss at a reception.
  • SMOKING
  • Hagen smokes several times, while Junuh smokes once, Grantland holds a pipe and a whole slew of miscellaneous/background characters smoke or hold cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Adele's distraught father commits suicide and we see the funeral, but little else is made of this.
  • Grady has a bit of a bad attitude toward his father for taking a job as a street cleaner during the Depression (although Junuh later sets him straight on that).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The use of sports -and in this case, golf - as a metaphor for playing and winning at the game of life.
  • Junuh's reaction to his war experience.
  • Golf in the past and how it compares to today's game.
  • Junuh not resolving his relationship with Adele.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Hardy hits a golf ball that accidentally hits some golfers.
  • In a scene set in WWI, various soldiers are hit by gunfire and drop to the ground as explosions go off around them, but none of the violence is graphic or bloody (the soldiers simply fall to the ground).
  • A man commits suicide by shooting himself (we hear the shot, but only see the gun in his hand afterwards).



  • Reviewed October 30, 2000 / Posted November 3, 2000

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