Why are golf movies so excruciating?
True, I have fond memories of the Kevin Costner vehicle Tin Cup, but usually we get the likes of The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Greatest Game Ever Played and Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius. Aside from bloated titles, these films also share an insufferable sense of piety. Who made caddies God?
Add to this genre Seven Days in Utopia, overly long title and all. The movie follows hot-tempered golfer Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black), who has fled into the wilds of Texas after a disastrous round on the pro circuit. He crashes his car and is rescued by none other than Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall), a former pro who has been hiding out on his ranch for decades, doing his best to keep his own demons at bay.
Will Johnny take Luke under his wing? Will lessons on chipping and humility be learned? Will Luke return to a tournament with a newfound perspective? Will Will Smith hover over the proceedings in tweed pants, offering a gentle smile to all below like some patron saint of sports hokum?
Seven Days in Utopia is obvious and hackneyed, the sort of movie in which all the locals in this small Texas town happen to be watching a replay of Luke’s awful performance when he walks into the diner. Everything is decent – teeth-grindingly so – and utterly unrelated to any people or place on earth.
Above all, Utopia is an awkward evangelism effort, complete with a conversion scene for its antihero. (“The revolution had begun in Luke’s soul,” Duvall’s Mr. Miyagi of the links tells us, as if the tears and swelling music didn’t already make this clear.) There is even a cliffhanger ending, followed by text on the screen directing viewers to find out what happened by visiting a website. Seven Days in Utopia is not a movie. It’s a clumsy religious tract.