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March 19, 2014

The Couch Potato: Don’t like ‘Bagger Vance?’ You may need a Mulligan

NEW CASTLE — The thing about art is that it's subjective. Something that one person loves, another hates. 

Obviously, that holds true with entertainment, as there are countless examples of television shows and movies that are adored and hated alike.  The Couch Potato's prime example will always be "The Big Bang Theory," which is my number one most hated show of all time, and yet it always leads the way in ratings.

Seriously, I have tried watching that show many times, always thinking something will jump out at me and I'll finally understand why people laugh at it. And then they start talking, spewing the most simplistic, obvious jokes ever written with that “nerd” delivery and I immediately start puking all over myself. OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get my point.

OK, I'm done talking about "The Big Bang Theory," but it does help illustrate my point about art.  I was thinking about all of this over the weekend because I randomly caught one of my favorite movies of all time last Thursday on, of all places, the Golf Channel.

I was flipping through the guide and there it was: "The Legend of Bagger Vance." 

Now the reason I bring up all that stuff up about art and subjectiveness, is because over the years, I've never met one other person who liked this movie or read one review that portrayed it in a positive light. I may be the only person on the planet who likes "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

So let me break it down and see if I can figure out why that is.

Like with any good sports movie, the plot doesn't get too far off from what one would expect. A golfer, broken from having gone to war, has to regain his swing to defeat the best golfers in the world. I won't spoil it for you, but you can expect redemption for this tortured soul. Who has a problem with someone overcoming long odds to be successful? No one should. 

The cast is not the problem. Will Smith is both supremely funny and deeply dramatic in the role of Bagger Vance, acting as a caddy carrying the bag of the former hometown golf hero, broken from participating in World War I. Matt Damon plays that broken golfer, Rannulph Junuh, mixing the solace of remembering the past, with the pain of the present. Charlize Theron rounds out the headliners as Adel Invergorden, playing the host of the local golf tournament, as well as Junuh's former lover. Neither of these three, along with the supporting cast, are an issue.

The directing of "Bagger Vance" was in fine hands with the great Robert Redford.  He does a magnificent job of telling a story, using his actors' talents and capturing the beautiful imagery of golf.  I know this is weird, but there are breathtaking shots of nature, of people and even just the grass swaying in the wind. I found Redford's direction perfect for the story being told, a little artsy, but perfect nonetheless.

Finally, the music. Set in the 1930s, the movie makes use of some period pieces by the likes of Duke Ellington and others, but the orchestral score by Rachel Portman is one of the best I have ever heard.  Now again, I may be alone in that opinion because I have bought not one, but two copies of the score on CD from Amazon for the low, low price of $50 each, but I only did that because the CD is out of print.  And because I lost the first copy.

So what's the problem here, people? We have a great story, with great performances, from a great director, all set to a great score. I don't know why I'm the only person in the world who likes this movie, but you know what, sometimes it's nice to be in the minority. 

Just like I am with the "The Big Bang Theory."


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