Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius2004

Anyone who's ever been passionate about golf will find something to admire in Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, a staidly reverent biopic about one of the game's greatest champions. In the title role, Jim Caviezel suffers almost as much as he did in The Passion of the Christ, portraying Jones--who made history by winning golf's elusive Grand Slam (four top tournaments in less than four months) in 1930--as a passionately committed golfer who silently endured chronic pain (a spinal disorder prompted his early retirement at age 28), stomach ailments, emotional torment, and borderline alcoholism while maintaining amateur status in the sport he so magnificently dominated. Jeremy Northam brings much-needed levity and rakish style as Jones' friend and rival golfer Walter Hagen, and Malcolm McDowell adds colorful character as Jones' friend and biographer O.B. Keeler while Claire Forlani suffers the typical biopic plight of the hero's wife, who offers compassionate empathy while wishing Jones had more time for family. With repetitive golf scenes and a somber tone of martyrdom, Bobby Jones was partially financed by Jones' estate, which may explain its respectable dullness and instant fate as a box-office dud. Still, director Rowdy (Road House) Herrington is clearly enamored of his subject, and some of that enthusiasm shines through the gloom. --Jeff Shannon

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