Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 28
  2. Negative: 2 out of 28
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  1. It's by far the most inspirational sports movie to come along in many a month.
  2. In a society where athletic competitions are too often likened to war, the recognition that everyone's equal once they're off the playing field is a welcome reminder of that little thing called perspective, not to mention sportsmanship.
  3. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Offers an inspiring story, lush visuals and accessible characters to give a black-hat-white-hat view of class struggle in America and England.
  4. 75
    As feel-good as any sports movie you're likely to find. It's a solid choice for family viewing, but is equally worthy of viewing by solo adults.
  5. 75
    I am not a golf fan but found The Greatest Game Ever Played absorbing all the same, partly because of the human element, partly because Paxton and his technicians have used every trick in the book to dramatize the flight and destination of the golf balls.
  6. LaBeouf ("Holes") has a scrubbed, ego-free innocence that is perfect for his working-class hero.
  7. Actor-turned-helmer Bill Paxton has fashioned solid family entertainment in this well-cast feature.
  8. The mixture of old-fashioned themes with newfangled techniques makes The Greatest Game Ever Played a canny piece of feel-good entertainment.
  9. 67
    The film is sugary, simplistic and riddled with cliches -- yet it still manages to absorb you in its story and even carry you with some of its emotions.
  10. An inconsistent and endearing sports inspirational that aims to be "Chariots of Fire" for golf.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    To help break the monotony, Frost relies on relentless digital effects; there are so many shots of giant golf balls whizzing toward the screen it looks like the film was meant to be projected in 3-D.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    What's missing here is the one thing any duffer knows you need: Focus. The Greatest Game Ever Played works so hard to convince you of the truth of its title that it never settles down to address the ball.
  13. Reviewed by: Jason Anderson
    The Greatest Game Ever Played is far too inconsistent to be great, but at least Paxton has made an honourable attempt to treat this piece of sports history with the gravity it deserves.
  14. Reviewed by: Matt Cheplic
    To be fair, Ouimet's story is pretty magical, one of the great sports underdog tales.
  15. 60
    As Ouimet, the always-terrific Shia LeBeouf is an oasis of depth in a film that otherwise can't pass up a sports-film cliché.
  16. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    It can be seen for what it is: a well-crafted entertainment that boasts excellent performances (particularly from Dillane) and fully engages the mythology of sport, reminding us that in its transcendent moments, even a tossy one like golf has the power to capture the collective imagination.
  17. About overcoming adversity and one's innermost fears. On this count, Paxton hits the ball squarely in capturing the psychology of his characters, but hooks it into the sand trap of effects and thematic overselling.
  18. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    The Greatest Game mostly sits there limply -- it lacks the charming swagger Paxton dependably brings to his own acting roles.
  19. 50
    Paxton and Frost lay the schmaltz on thickly, but the deal-breaker is the overuse of special effects, which make the game in question look more like pinball than golf.
  20. Never thrills on an emotional level the way the best of sports films – a "Hoosiers," say – can, but it's a satisfying entertainment nonetheless.
  21. Reviewed by: Joshua Katzman
    Sports films about underdogs overcoming long odds run the gamut from flinty intelligence (Million Dollar Baby) to mushy sentimentality (Seabiscuit). This Disney drama...falls somewhere in the middle.
  22. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    And how good should we feel about this match anyway? Absolutely anyone, we learn, can win the 1913 U.S. Open. Except blacks, Jews or women.
  23. 50
    Considering its superlative title (second only to George Stevens's New Testament epic, "The Greatest Story Ever Told"), I'm sorry to report that The Greatest Game Ever Played ranks somewhere in the murky middleground of sports movies.
  24. The film will have to settle for a bogey rather than a par. Still, some hyperbole is warranted, like "Safest Movie to Take the Entire Family To."
  25. 50
    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.
  26. Reviewed by: Gregory Kirschling
    An inert family golf movie.
  27. It's such a great story, you have to ask two questions: Why didn't they make this movie before? And why did they make it this way?
  28. 30
    This highly sanitized, heavily costumed, dramatically inert nonsense makes last year's dreadful golf biopic "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" look like a masterpiece.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Jul 18, 2011
    With biopics, it is not easy to captivate audiences especially with the predictability factor coming into play. But this movie tackles thisWith biopics, it is not easy to captivate audiences especially with the predictability factor coming into play. But this movie tackles this problem pretty well and manages to impress albeit a little. This is a feel good movie that initially staggers but manages to stand up on its feet and comes above the average mark. The direction and unexpectedly the visual effects stand out among other aspects. The movie runs about rudderless in the first half due to what i conclude as poor writing. The scenes seem disconnected from each other and the proceedings don't seems to make sense (i mean why would a golf association president bother persuading a store janitor to take up golf, especially after he refuses initially). The movie comes very close to going off the cliff but the the cast and director manage to hold the attention. The movie has a British flavor to it. Midway, the movie sets a background of an ongoing rivalry between the British and the American golfers. Giving the rivalry a friendly tone but not losing the competitiveness is a tough job and the script manages this beautifully. This is the point where i think the script finds its ground and gives the movie a new hope and direction.

    Shia LaBeouf seems a natural and gives a fitting performance for his slightly decentralized role as American peasant class golfer Francis Ouimet. Sharing the spotlight with him is Stephen Dillane who gives the most memorable performance. He plays the role of the legendary British golfer with a poor background Harry Vardon lured into the rat race by the ever elusive social status. He is haunted by 4 men wearing top hats who had put an un-erasable ghostly impression on him in his childhood. It clearly shows that having a strong theatre background certainly helps. It is worth noting that both these characters are from under privileged homes with Vardon already reaching the peak of his career while Ouimet following the footsteps of his rival cum idol. Other supporting actors play out their parts in a commendable manner. I especially liked Eddie, the young "smarter than age" caddie played by Josh Flitter.

    I didn't know squat about golfing but i tried learning about it before watching this one. Fortunately the movie doesn't dwell deep into the technicalities of golfing. Although you wont be at a disadvantage if you don't understand golf but the movie will be more enjoyable if you do know the basics. The special effects deserve well... a 'special' mention. The game has been beautifully showcased with the boredom factor almost eliminated by the inspiring effects. It was what kept me going all the time. Each time the golf ball is driven, we are treated with a different angle or perspective followed by a montage which skip past the length and width of the game. The background score only adds to the thrill.

    The movie, in its entirety, could have been much more than what it is. Anyhow, the movie at its core is about dreaming big and going after the dream irrespective of what others think of you. Both the central characters Apart from the starting hiccups, the movie plays out fine without being over-dramatic. But if you are looking for a movie with some inspiration, this may not be the ideal choice.
    Full Review »
  2. FraazT.
    Feb 6, 2009
    An inspirational movie. Portrays the true spirit of golf or for that matter any game. It shows the value of perseverance and resilience.
  3. EvanW.
    Apr 30, 2007
    This movie is a great inspirational story about grit, determinination, adn the desire to do what you love to do. The acting is above average, This movie is a great inspirational story about grit, determinination, adn the desire to do what you love to do. The acting is above average, with great performances from the always stellar Shia Lebouf and a very solid performance by Stephen Dillane. To any fans of golf, or any sport this is the movie for you. A heartfelt sports masterpiece. Full Review »