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The Greatest Game Ever Played


Latest Home Video

Apr 10, 2006

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Shia LaBeouf

Justin Ashforth


2005 Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Still shot from the movie: The Greatest Game Ever Played.

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Reviewed by

Overall A-
Run Time120

Making the Grades

Golf has gone through a myriad of changes in its long history. Once an exclusive game for the rich and titled, it's now also a favorite weekend pastime for everyday sports fanatics. Still, breaking down the privileged barriers took time. One of the early athletes who sparked the revolutionary changes on the American continent is Francis Ouimet.

To supplement the family's meager income, Francis (Shia LaBeouf) works at the Brookline, Massachusetts's golf course as a caddy. As a result of his job, he knows the course. Every once in a while he even manages to sneak in a lone game when the regular club members aren't around. But his immigrant parentage and lack of wealth is enough to keep the talented athlete from being allowed on the links with the certified members.

His skill with an iron becomes well known among the locals, some of who do their best to mentor the budding player. Nevertheless, despite their support and his mother's (Marnie Mc Phail) quiet encouragement, Francis' father (Elian Koteas) worries the boy is wasting his time pursuing a hobby instead of learning a trade.

Then in 1913, an affluent Englishman sponsors a trip for Britain's top golf champions. Traversing the Atlantic, Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) and Ted Ray (Stephen Marcus), plan to take on the Americans in the 18th U.S. Open and wrest away their coveted cup. By a fortunate fluke, Francis gets an invitation to play as an amateur in the tournament along side Vardon, his childhood hero.

On the morning of the first round, Francis's caddy fails to show up after the school's truant officer catches him and sends him off to class. However, the caddy's 10-year-old brother Eddy (Josh Flitter) comes ready to fill in. Hardly taller than the clubs, Eddy appears to be more of a detriment than advantage to the nervous golfer. Yet Eddy's laid-back personality becomes a lucky stroke when the amateur putter finds himself within striking range of the top professionals.

Set in the 1900's, the film's characters rely heavily on cigars and liquor to deal with the pressures of the game. They also live within a social system that measures a man by his money and heredity rather than his own abilities. Fighting those class distinctions proves challenging for more than just Francis' immigrant family.

Living up to a superlative title like The Greatest Game Ever Played may seem a difficult shot. Fortunately, the photography, actors and story all work to give at least some credibility to the label. For many family viewers, the feel good script and scarcity of content concerns will make this putting match one of the year's greatest family films.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Greatest Game Ever Played.

Who mentors young Francis when he takes up the game of golf? What role can a mentor play in the life of a young person? Is it important for athletes, artists and others to have role models to follow?

Why does Francis’ father discourage his son’s dream? As an immigrant to America, what role does the father feel locked into?

Some sports are more exclusive than others. Does golf still fit into this category? What barriers do these characters have to overcome?

Canadian Movie Ratings

MB G -----

Canadian Home Video Rating: G

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Details on home video releases of The Greatest Game Ever Played...

If you also believe golf is The Greatest Game Ever Played, then you’ll want to cover the whole course available on this DVD release from Walt Disney Pictures. Offering two audio commentaries, one with director Bill Paxton and the other with writer Mark Frost, the disc also features A View From The Gallery (on the set of The Greatest Game Ever Played), Two Legends and the Greatest Game (a short documentary about Francis Ouimet and Harry Vardon), and From Caddy to Champion (a historical interview from 1963). Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and French (Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English and French.

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