Cheech Marin and Kevin Costner in Tin Cup

No Double Bogey Blues for Costner

I won't deny that at times I have thought that Kevin Costner is one of the worst actors about, there have been some bad movies, but placed in the realms of a sports movie with a romantic plot thrown in for good measure and he shines like no one else can. As is the case of "Tin Cup" a movie which focuses on the world of golf and in particular a golfer who epitomises the word underdog. Whilst the world of golf and yet another underdog style sports movie may not be to everyone's liking, the additional romantic plot which is as much the focus of the film as it the sports scenario does give "Tin Cup" a greater appeal and a much more rounded feel to it.

Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy (Kevin Costner - American Flyers), a one time promising golfer, seems content in his life as a golf pro at a back of nowhere driving range, where he spends his days drinking with his buddies and betting on which fly will die first. But when Molly Griswold (Rene Russo - In The Line of Fire), the local town's new psychologist, shows up at the range for golfing lessons, Roy's out look on life changes. Especially when he finds out that Molly is dating Dave Simms (Don Johnson) a smarmy golfing pro who at one point was his best friend but is now his nemesis. Determined to win the heart of Molly, he bucks up his ideas and sets out on the road to being a serious golfer once again.

Rene Russo and Kevin Costner in Tin Cup

The sporting side of the film does dwell in the world of the predictable, setting up our hero as being the typical underdog who given half a chance could be as good as the best. Although this half of the plot does not sway too far from the standard route, it does so without being overly cliche or cheesy. Yes we get a few standard scenarios, such as just before the big climax are hero's confidence takes a bashing and of course we get a pretty predictable climax, although not as predictable as it could be thanks to a very enjoyable twist which epitomises why McAvoy never made it as a serious golfer. Where it does seem to excel is firstly in the dialogue which avoids being cliche at all costs, in fact it uses golfing metaphors through out the film instead of using cheesy lines, which amazingly does not alienate an audience who may be unfamiliar with them. The second area that the sporting side of the film excels is in the humour, not once do you get a sense that a scene or scenario was included just to gain laughs. In fact the humour is so subtly included that you never know when it will creep up on you and you find a huge smile appearing on your face.

Just as enjoyable is the romantic storyline between McAvoy and Molly Griswold. In the same manner as the sporting element has been dealt with, the same can be said of the romantic plot. At times the romance is totally predictable but then it will surprise you by adding a subtle twist and most importantly it never relies on limp cheesy dialogue, often using the golfing metaphors to describe love and feelings. What is also prevalent through out this side of the film is again the humour, making the romance feel light and fresh rather than serious. My only negative when it comes to this romantic element of the film is the pairing of Costner and Russo. Whilst individually they are two very sexy stars, the on screen chemistry between them fails and lets the film down ever so slightly.

As previously mentioned, put Kevin Costner in a sporting movie and he seems totally at home, which is all the more surprising with "Tin Cup" as prior to this film he had never picked up a golf club. Needless to say, he does an admirable job as appearing as someone who has been playing the game for years and whilst his swing may not be the most convincing some of the shots he actually played were pretty impressive. Costner seems to have a natural ability to play a character who is your typical sporting jock but also has a romantic side. Previous roles in "For Love of the Game" and "Bull Durham" have shown this and he continues to be the master of this with his performance here. My only criticism comes from the lack of any real chemistry in the romantic scenes between himself and Rene Russo, but all there other scenes together are brilliant.

Despite being usually cast in much grittier roles, Rene Russo seems equally at home in this humorous drama. Her character although not what you could class a blond bimbo, is far from being an intellectual, but this allows for Russo to demonstrate an ability for comedy in some ways similar to that of her performance in "Lethal Weapon 4". What is also very apparent is that she can rival many a younger actress in the sex appeal stakes, and whilst the chemistry between Costner and herself may have been missing she absolutely sizzled on the screen.

Whilst Costner and Russo are undoubtedly the stars of the film there are two other actors who are pivotal to the success of this film. Firstly is Don Johnson as McAvoy's golfing nemesis Dave Simms, a man so smarmy that you cannot but hate him. Johnson really does an amazing job of bringing this character to life and whilst you really do detest the character for the way he acts and treats people, there are some nice twists when he pays homage to McAvoys determination in his own smarmy way. Also putting in a brilliant performance is Cheech Marin as McAvoy's best friend and caddie, Romeo Posar. Marin manages to add so much comedy to the film without spoiling the mood and surprisingly the interactions between Costner and Marin are really funny.

In my opinion, one of the key factors in the effectiveness of "Tin Cup" arises from the fact that the director is Ron Shelton, who like Costner seems most at home when he is in charge of a sports movies. Whilst he has used many of the techniques and ideas which have filled his earlier films, such as "Bull Durham", the way "Tin Cup" comes across is as fresh as ever. What is most noticeable is that he shuns many of the techniques used in sporting films, such as the slow motion footage and long sweeping shots of the scenery. Also helping the movie is a brilliant toe tapping soundtrack which really gives the film a sort of rhythm. With pieces coming from Bruce Hornsby, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Jimmie Vaughn, it is a really bluesy/ rocky sound with a touch of Mexican about it. There are 2 pieces which really stick out and they are "Little Bit is Better than Nada" and "Double Bogey Blues" which for days after watching this film I found myself singing.

Is "Tin Cup" the greatest golf movie ever made? Not quite, but it is pretty good. Whilst residing firmly in the world of the underdog story, "Tin Cup" manages to keep this tired, predictable plot fresh by shunning many of the staid techniques and scenes which dominate this genre. Add to that an enjoyable romantic plot that is as focal as the golf and overall you have a very entertaining golf movie which finds the middle ground between the stupidly funny "Happy Gilmore" and the more dramatic "Legend of Bagger Vance". Of course this will not appeal to everyone but with a mixture of romance and golf it does have a much wider appeal than initially perceived and to be honest it is not as predictable as many of these sporting underdog stories turn out to be.