2 out of 5 stars
Opens locally Friday, September 2nd, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes, Rated G
Starring: Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Melissa Leo, Deborah Ann Woll
Directed by Matthew Dean Russell (directorial debut)
In “Seven Days in Utopia,” Utopia is not some perfect, magical place, but the real-life stereotypical redneck town of Utopia, Texas. It is based on the 2009 book “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia” by David Cook, and is meant to be an inspirational tale of what is really important in life, with the sport of golf as the backdrop. But you’d have to go searching through countless sand traps, rough, and water hazards to find anything of substantial value here. Clearly, someone dropped the ball.
Lucas Black plays the central character Luke Chisholm, an amateur-turned-professional golfer who was on the verge of winning his first pro event. Instead, he had a complete melt-down on the 18th hole, spurred by his caddie and controlling father (Joseph Lyle Taylor), who has been pushing him his entire life. Down and out, Luke is at a crossroads, quite literally. He winds up in Utopia, where he is stranded for a week. In his days spent in Utopia, he regains a grip on his life, and his game, through his encounters with the village locals.
“Seven Days in Utopia” is not so horrible in that you’ll hate yourself for watching it…it’s actually too soft and harmless to warrant any kind of emotional response. But it does rely on every single movie cliché in the world, doing none of them justice. He meets a gal, gets advice from a wise old-timer who has been in his shoes. There’s even the prick redneck bad-guy, who just is mean for the sake of it at first. Hmmm, I wonder if Luke will end up golfing in that big tournament everybody keeps talking about…and I wonder how he’ll do…we’ll get to that in a bit.
Robert Duvall mails in a performance as the mentor golfer that is so lazy, he doesn’t even bother to keep his eyes from occasionally wandering directly into the camera. His character is a hybrid Cowboy-Yoda, infused with the soul of Mr. Miyagi, all for naught. Melissa Leo, a fine actress, is completely wasted in a minor role that has absolutely no meaning or purpose. With talents like these, you would have hoped for more. But “Seven Days in Utopia” is not interested with finding new ground…it’s completely content with par.
For golfers out there, this isn’t your version of Rocky. As we trod along through this predictable and worn-out film, we get little drama involving the sport, nor any real emotion that would make you even care about Luke’s path to redemption.
There’s too many clichés to count, but worst of all comes at the very end, in what was by far the most laughable, absurd, rip-off ending in the history…yes history!...of movies (at least that I can remember.) Throughout the movies we are told about values, and how your success in golf doesn’t equate with success in life. In the final climactic scene, guess what happens? Well, I couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. But you can go to “didhemaketheputt.com” if you really want to know.
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