Tin Cup

TIN CUP—“From the moment I first saw you, I knew I was through with bar girls and… strippers and motorcycle chicks, and…” 

One-time golf prodigy ‘Roy McAvoy’ (Kevin Costner) seems lazily content to hang out with pals at his small-town West Texas driving range. After bombshell psychologist ‘Dr. Molly Griswold’ (Rene Russo) signs up for lessons, Roy is smitten/shamed enough to get his act half-together, and goes for a spot on the U.S. Open, where he will pit his cavalier, unorthodox skills against top pros. They include Molly’s smug boyfriend ‘David Simms’ (Don Johnson), who knew Roy in college and can’t resist putting down a guy he sees as a loser.

One of the summer releases of 1996, this leisurely, winning comedy nestled a relaxing space among noisy blockbusters like The Rock and Independence Day. Balmy and good-natured as a sunny 9-hole game with amiable friends (maybe 18-holes since it runs 133 minutes, add a cooler to your cart), the plot-predictable but well-cast, clever and disarming fairway amble was written & directed by Ron Shelton, reuniting with Costner eight years after batting a home run with Bull Durham. 

Unlike slapstick affairs Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore  or quasi-mystical ruminations like The Legend Of Bagger Vance, Shelton doesn’t handicap his round by either mocking the game or turning it into one of those pretentious “what it represents” tomes too often loaded onto baseball or boxing: he shoots well under par with obvious affection for his flawed yet resilient  characters and respect for the underlying ethos of the precise might-meets-math of the sport.

Sandwiched between his hugely expensive, maligned sci-fi apocalypse gambols Waterworld and The Postman, this rebound to the laid-back zone made good use of Costner’s deft Everyman light comedy chops (Silverado, Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams, The Upside Of Anger), dovetailing with his seemingly natural athleticism. Kevin’s Roy needs a win, and we root for the dude, even when his pride frequently shoots him in the foot.

Ah, the essential Ms. Russo, 42-and-where-are-you?—wit, elegance and maturity made her the sharp, sexy, boldly fun go-to gal of the day (Lethal Weapon 3, Get Shorty, The Thomas Crown Affair–yes!).

The underrated Don Johnson easily covers the fable’s smarmy ‘bad guy’, and the great Linda Hart as ‘Doreen’, Roy’s stripper ex-wife, adds sweet-tart tang to the sun-kissed locations in Arizona and Texas. All in, just a great hang-out flick.

Sex and golf are the two things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy.”

Done for $45,000,000, it grossed $53,900,000 domestically (28th that year), part of a global total of $75,800,000, enough to qualify as a moderate success. Roy would be okay with that. With Cheech Marin (as caddy/co-conspirator/conscience ‘Romeo Pasar’, basically Sancho Panza to Roy’s self-sabotaging Don Quixote), Rex Linn, Dennis Burkley and Ken Venturi.

* Tee up: Dean & Jerry play thru The Caddy (at least it features “That’s Amore”); Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (like watching golf on TV, zzzz); Seven Days In Utopia (add gospel gobbledygook to this sandtrap); Tommy’s Honour (well-reviewed, plus it’s in Scotland); The Greatest Game Ever Played (only if you can deal with Shia LaBeouf); From The Rough (we do like Taraji P. Henson and Michael Clarke Duncan); and back in 1951, good old Glenn Ford as Ben Hogan in Follow The Sun.


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