A Snooze Runs Through It

If you love the excitement of watching golf, this Damon-Smith bore is right up your fairway

Smiling knowingly from beneath his shabby hat (which looks as though it has seen more than a few free bowls of soup), Smith is ideal in the well-worn role, but--to borrow songstress Loreena McKennitt's term for her sublime backing ensemble--he's also an idling Porsche, squelched into mannered behavior that can scarcely contain his ample reservoirs of charm and wit. (Note to producers: Let Smith direct Redford next time.)

He's the best of the bunch here, but the movie's detached rosiness adds a cumbersome handicap, as with Theron--whose every scene looks like springtime in a pantyliner commercial--and Damon, who is simply another diluted entry in a growing line of stand-ins (Hutton, Pitt, Fiennes) for the director himself.

Like most of his films after the poignant Ordinary People and jovial Milagro Beanfield War--especially the interminable Horse Whisperer--Bagger Vance is a story of healing that shies away from its own soulful potential, cowering behind lush cinematography and immaculate production design. In essence, it's another pretty and polite story of a wrecked course's having its divots systematically replaced.

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