Saturday 23 October 2021

Movie Review: Tin Cup (1996)

A sports romance and comedy, Tin Cup does not lack charm but struggles to justify itself.

In West Texas, Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy (Kevin Costner) runs a ramshackle golf driving range with his friend Romeo (Cheech Marin). In his college years, Roy and his friend and rival David Simms (Don Johnson) both showed great promise on the golf course. Simms is now a star on the PGA tour, while Roy never tamed his aggressive play with the necessary discipline to compete.

Simms and his girlfriend Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo), a psychologist, show up at the driving range and old rivalries are rekindled. Simms convinces Roy to be his caddie for a charity tournament, an experience that ends badly, while a mutual attraction develops between Roy and Molly. To prove himself worthy of her love, he decides to enter the U.S. Open.

A bloated exercise in celebrating a maverick character, Tin Cup attempts to recreate the vibe of Bull Durham. Director and co-writer Ron Shelton re-teams with star Kevin Costner, and the setting switches from baseball backwaters to golf hinterlands. This is a retread with less interesting characters who really don't deserve the attention, the seams showing in a patched-up attempt to remix an old formula at an inexcusable length of 134 minutes.

For a movie about golf, there is too much golf. The final chapter is an endless recreation of Roy's US Open run, passing through all the regional qualification tournaments, and the pacing starts to resemble a long night of tedium watching the Golf Channel with no off button on the remote. An unknown's Quixotic quest to win a major tournament carries traditional underdog appeal, but it's still a relief when the William Ross music soars to predictable levels of nauseous melodrama to celebrate a heroic inability to compromise principles.

Nuggets of enjoyment do rescue a basic level of watchability. Kevin Costner admirably invests in a man content with his chosen lot in life, a living example that raw talent alone is far from a sufficient condition for success. The west Texas desert milieu provides a beautifully desolate backdrop to a proud life happily wasted, and Don Johnson is quite good as the suitably smarmy but still quite clever counterpoint.

Rene Russo struggles with the underwritten and frequently unconvincing role of Molly - for a doctor she is none too clever and quickly falls for the charms of a flawed man - but nevertheless provides some comic relief and the occasional spark. Cheech Marin is a classic sidekick, equally entranced and frustrated by his hero.

Despite a wild swing aiming for old glories, Tin Cup settles for a middling round.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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