August 16, 1996 in Seven

Ace In The Hole ‘Tin Cup’ Has Kevin Costner In The Swing As A Golf Pro

Michael H. Price Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 

The more Kevin Costner believes in the material, the better he will respond to it with a convincing performance. Costner seems to identify with the discredited underdog fighting for a chance at survival, and as a consequence we find his best work in such films as “Bull Durham” (1988), “JFK” (1991), “A Perfect World” (1993) - and now, “Tin Cup.”

No coincidence that “Tin Cup” bears the mark of Ron Shelton, the accomplished screenwriter who weighed in as a director with “Bull Durham.” With Costner in mind, Shelton and co-scenarist John Norville have tailored this story of decayed glory into a nice fit that Costner wears with a pleasing combination of understatement and arrogance.

The golfing racket is the setting, with failed contender Costner maintaining a hick-town driving range in Texas when he should be seeking to regain prominence on the big-time tourney circuit.

His excuse and/or reason to get his act back together comes in the form of (A) a just-passing-through lady headshrinker (played by Rene Russo), who shows up in search of golf lessons and maybe a spot of romance; and (B) a longtime rival (Don Johnson, in a really oily portrayal), who shows up en route to a big-deal competition with the demeaning request that Costner do some caddying for him.

Well, of course, it’s not spilling any beans to say Rene Russo has shown up by more than just coincidence. And you also know that Costner is going to use Don Johnson’s “magnanimous” invitation as an opportunity to teach the selfimportant big shot a thing or two about golf and shameless selfpromotion.

Costner is at his best, however, when paired off with Cheech Marin, who can steal a scene before the rest of the cast even knows the cameras are rolling. Marin is in top form as a fellow golfer whose theories on the nature of the game and the meaning of life itself are perpetually at odds with Costner’s philosophies.

Russo, unfortunately, weakens the film with an edgy, stereotypical portrayal - the psychiatrist who’s loopier than just about anyone who might consult her. This ill-cast role generates little chemistry with Costner’s relaxed portrayal and actually might cause the viewer to cringe a little at the prospect of the characters’ getting together for keeps. Don Johnson slices the ham a bit thickly, but only in the service of creating a pleasing contrast with Costner’s work.

The finale is satisfying enough, not only in its resolution for Costner’s character but also in its refusal to try to manipulate the audience into cheering. Golf may be a snoozer for anyone who isn’t passionate about the game, but Shelton keeps things visually interesting and even musters a bit of suspense. The running time feels overlong at 130-plus minutes; tightening by half an hour would have brought the film itself nearer the excellence that Costner and Marin bring to the project.

MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: “TIN CUP” Locations: Newport, East Sprague and Coeur d’Alene cinemas. Credits: Directed by Ron Shelton, starring Kevin Costner, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Rene Russo Running time: 2:10 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Tin Cup: Duane Byrge/The Hollywood Reporter: Kevin Costner comes out of the water hazard in “Tin Cup,” a scrappy, dog-legged golf comedy from Ron Shelton that will likely score a quick couple of birdies at the box office. However, the film’s ending, where Shelton chooses not to hack out a safe-and-easy shot, will somewhat dampen its allure among gallery members who have trouble reading the grain. Still, this loose-jointed hilarity, with plenty of brainy backspin, is an end-of-season winner and should score big on the 19th hole - the video circuit.

“Bob Thomas/Associated Press: “Golf and sex are two things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy.” That’s one of the many truths to be learned in “Tin Cup,” a sports comedy that erases the Hollywood bugaboo that you can’t make a good movie about golf (the lowbrow “Caddyshack” doesn’t count). It is a charmer from tee-off to final putt.

These sidebars appeared with the story: “TIN CUP” Locations: Newport, East Sprague and Coeur d’Alene cinemas. Credits: Directed by Ron Shelton, starring Kevin Costner, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Rene Russo Running time: 2:10 Rating: R

OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “Tin Cup: Duane Byrge/The Hollywood Reporter: Kevin Costner comes out of the water hazard in “Tin Cup,” a scrappy, dog-legged golf comedy from Ron Shelton that will likely score a quick couple of birdies at the box office. However, the film’s ending, where Shelton chooses not to hack out a safe-and-easy shot, will somewhat dampen its allure among gallery members who have trouble reading the grain. Still, this loose-jointed hilarity, with plenty of brainy backspin, is an end-of-season winner and should score big on the 19th hole - the video circuit.

“Bob Thomas/Associated Press: “Golf and sex are two things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy.” That’s one of the many truths to be learned in “Tin Cup,” a sports comedy that erases the Hollywood bugaboo that you can’t make a good movie about golf (the lowbrow “Caddyshack” doesn’t count). It is a charmer from tee-off to final putt.


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