The Greatest Game Ever Played

2005

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Critics Consensus

Despite all the underdog sports movie conventions, the likable cast and lush production values make The Greatest Game Ever Played a solid and uplifting tale.

63%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 112

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 62,546
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The Greatest Game Ever Played Photos

Movie Info

The true story of an upset victory that helped change the sport of golf forever provides the basis for this period drama. Francis Ouimet (played by Shia LaBeouf) was born in 1893 to a working-class family in Massachusetts, and grew up fascinated by golf. However, at that time golf was considered a pastime of the wealthy and privileged, and British and Scottish players dominated the professional game. Ouimet's familial home was near the Brookline, MA, Country Club, and over the stern objections of his father, Francis got a job there as a caddy. Honing his skill in his spare time, Francis displayed a tremendous natural talent for the game and an understanding of its strategies, and 1913 he became the first amateur to play in the U.S. Open, held at the Brookline Country Club. Ouimet's presence was considered little more than a novelty at the time; Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane), a British champion with six tournament victories under his belt, was considered a shoo-in to win, with Ted Ray (Stephen Marcus) his only serious competition. However, Vardon, a fellow working-class boy who had overcome tuberculosis to become Britain's premier professional golfer, had more in common with Ouimet than anyone expected, and the tournament unexpectedly became a hard-fought competition between an established star and a promising unknown. Directed by Bill Paxton in his second directorial effort, The Greatest Game Ever Played also stars Elias Koteas as Francis' father, Josh Flitter as the ten-year-old boy who becomes Francis' caddy, and Peyton List as Sarah Wallis, Francis' sweetheart.

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Cast

Shia LaBeouf
as Francis Ouimet
Stephen Dillane
as Harry Vardon
Elias Koteas
as Arthur Ouimet
Josh Flitter
as Eddie Lowery
Peyton List
as Sarah Wallis
Marnie McPhail
as Mary Ouimet
James Paxton
as Young Harry Vardon
Tom Rack
as Black Top-Hatted Man
Armand Laroche
as Black Top-Hatted Man
Peter Hurley
as Black Top-Hatted Man
Gregory Terlecki
as Black Top-Hatted Man
Jonathan Higgins
as Embry Wallis
Matthew Knight
as Young Francis Ouimet
Luke Askew
as Alec Campbell
Amanda Jane Tilson
as Young Sarah Wallace
Jamie Merling
as Young Louise Ouimet
Eugenio Esposito
as Young Raymond Ouimet
Robin Wilcock
as Bernard Darwin
Peter Firth
as Lord Northcliffe
Michael Sinelnikoff
as Lord Bullock
Justin Ashforth
as Ted Hastings
Arthur Holden
as Club Secretary
Len Cariou
as Stedman Comstock
Nicholas Wright
as Phillip Wainwright
Nicolas Wright
as Phillip Wainwright
Max Kasch
as Freddie Wallis
Danette Mackay
as Mrs. Wallis
George Asprey
as Wilfred Reid
Joe Jackson
as Pub Pianist
Luke Kirby
as Frank Hoyt
Timothy W. Peper
as Walter Gibbs
Tim Peper
as Walter Gibbs (as Timothy W. Peper)
Dawn Upshaw
as Soprano
Mike Nahrgang
as Baritone
James Bradford
as Robert Watson
Marc James Beauchamp
as Assistant Pro
Michael Weaver
as John McDermott
Pierre Boudreau
as Northcliffe's Valet
Johnny Griffin
as Jack Lowery
Dennis St John
as Wallis's Butler
Terry Reid
as Vardon's Caddy Tommy
Philip Preten
as Comstock's Assistant
Philip Pretten
as Comstock's Assistant
Walter Massey
as President Taft
Patrick Whitebean
as McDermott's Caddy
Melissa Carter
as Reid's Escort
Melanie Beaulne
as Reid's Escort
Melanie Beauline
as Reid's Escort
Jeremy Thibodeau
as Raymond Ouimet
Alexina Cowan
as Louise Ouimet
Frank Fontaine
as Wallis' Chauffeur
Marcel Jeannin
as Office Worker
Brian Wrench
as Gallery Member
Charles S. Doucet
as Irish Crew Boss
Nicole Braber
as Girlfriend
Kyle Macdougall
as Vardon's Assistant
Jesse Rath
as Runner
Howard Ryshpan
as Gallery Member
James Scavone
as Copy Boy
James Scovone
as Copy Boy
Paul Cagelet
as Passerby
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News & Interviews for The Greatest Game Ever Played

Critic Reviews for The Greatest Game Ever Played

All Critics (112) | Top Critics (30)

  • Ouimet versus Vardon probably was the greatest golf game ever played, and Paxton and Frost do it justice, but I wouldn't sit through another simulated hole of it for Tiger Woods's salary.

    Oct 4, 2005 | Full Review…
  • I know it's all about how well they construct the journey, but I just kind of felt like, okay, we know exactly what's going to happen here.

    Oct 3, 2005
  • [An] overloaded movie.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Full Review…
  • As sports movies go, it doesn't get more exciting than this.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A sweet-natured, prettily photographed and at times genuinely exciting drama, bogged down by some thinly written characters and syrupy music.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • The film will have to settle for a bogey rather than a par.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Greatest Game Ever Played

  • Apr 07, 2013
    Predictable movies, that with an inevitably uplifting ending and familiar character progressions, can still be good. The Greatest Game Ever Played is one of those films. The premise, that of an underdog underprivileged young man going up against the greatest golfers in the world, has been done. Like many of said stories, this one is based upon actual events. Unlike many similarly themed films, however, it strikes a resonance beyond the mere fact it's based on a true story, with a really effective execution. The acting is very strong all around, with Shia LaBeouf fitting his role perfectly. He captures resilience, charm, and bottled frustration as well as anyone, and felt very in tune with what the role called for. I liked the interactions he had with the rest of the cast, with Stephen Dillane being especially impressive. Dillane's deadpan intensity gave the film a dramatic weight that it wouldn't have had otherwise. All of the inner-character dynamics felt authentic and well realized. From a script standpoint, the film did an excellent job exploring the different character arcs. It was heavy handed, to be sure, in its main theme critiquing the aristocracy, but this was outweighed by the effective and inventive use of flashbacks. What was especially well done were the parallels between Dillane's early character and LaBeouf, with the film appropriately restraining itself from being too obvious. The film also struck a good balance from a tone standpoint. It worked as a pure drama and an underdog story, while also having a noticeable charm and humor to it. A fun, refreshingly positive, and always entertaining sports conventions fest. 4/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2012
    The Greatest Game Ever Played is an excellent family-friendly, underdog, sports-themed film in the Disney tradition. I thoroughly enjoyed the cast; the young Shia LaBouf was perfect for the role. Sure, it's clichéd at times; the class conflict/social structure theme permeates the movie and is too heavy-handed at times. It's a period drama which may not be familiar to viewers not schooled in golfing history. In the early 1900s, golf was new to America and dominated by British champions such as Harry Vardon. Furthermore, the game belonged to the upper crust of society, those who inhabited exclusive country clubs. However, both Vardon and Francis Ouimet (LaBouf's character) arose from humble beginnings and signaled changes to come. It's predictable in the Disney tradition but positive and uplifting nonetheless. The golf itself is interesting, but this isn't Rocky in terms of sports excitement. The film even has several fine comedic moments, especially those featuring Ouimet's caddy, a plucky fifth-grader. In short, it's an enjoyable film, and you don't have to like golf to appreciate it.
    Clintus M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2012
    The Greatest Game Ever Played looks and feels like a great sports film, but the underdog has run its course. Don't get me wrong, this was a very enjoyable and enlightening film that really got my attentiok, but I'm just not seeing the genius in a script that we see in so many other sports films. But what seperates this from other sports films is the sport itself, golf. I play golf once and a while and it was nice to see a sports film that wasn't football or basketball, and it was also nice to see a golf film besides Happy Gilmore. Another thing that makes the film great is the cast, which has given me a lot more respect for Shia Lebeouf. I really like Labeouf in his earlier movies like this and Holes, and its always great to see him play a good and interesting performance that wasn't Transformers or playing Indiana Jones's son. I loved the tone and production of the film, Bill Paxton makes this film look truly magnificent and more interesting than a movie about golf should. But sadly I still can't ignore the fact that it tries way too hard to feel like other underdog sports films. The ending was very touching, but some moments I laughed because it really reminded me of Rudy and pulled a lot of cliches. The Greatest Game Ever Played doesn't feel original, but it does feel beautiful and interesting from start to finish, and has deemed itself worthy of being called a very good and entertaining sports film.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2011
    Enjoyable, with good production and good effects, just a bit confusing for non-golf fans.
    Rodrigo R Super Reviewer

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