Tin Cup

on August 16, 1996 by Christine James
   One would think that if Ron Shelton and Kevin Costner, who worked together on the 1988 baseball-themed success "Bull Durham," were going to reteam in another sports film, this one about golf, that they'd find some particularly ingenious ways to breathe life in the notoriously boring pastime. Unfortunately, "Tin Cup" is only marginally less tedious than an actual televised tournament is to the average non-golf fan.
   Costner plays Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy, a brilliant but undisciplined golfer whose tendency to go for the gusto instead of playing it safe has cost him a potentially lucrative career. Instead, he's living in a cramped trailer in the middle of the desert, teaching golf in an armadillo-infested hovel with a klatch of classless but good-natured cronies. When Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo) struts in for a golf lesson, Roy is smitten (despite her bitchy and humorless veneer). It turns out, however, that she is dating Roy's long-time rival, the selfish, two-faced David Simms (Don Johnson)--thus providing the impetus for Roy to get his game back up to par (so to speak) in order to show up David and win the (albeit icy) heart of Molly. With Roy a self-defeating, hot-tempered loser and Molly a personified bucket of cold water, the two make for an unappealing pair of protagonists. Although there are some good jokes that might be funny in another movie, here they wither and die against the bleak, apathetic backdrop of these characters and their situations. Eventually, Molly-in coming to terms with her romantic feelings for Roy--begins to melt and turns from witchy into some sort of a wacky, zany goof, but she's equally difficult to like in that personality.
   When we finally get to the big climax--a competition between Roy and David at the U.S. Open--annoyingly loud, swelling music attempts to point out the purportedly exciting moments, but it fails miserably. There's just nothing heart-pounding about a little dimpled ball arcing through the air for the dozenth time. The music even bellows heroically when the bad guy gets a good shot! In the end, you don't even know if the moral is to play it safe or to go for it. "Tin Cup" would have rated an inoffensive two stars had it clocked in nearer 90 minutes, but two hours and 14 minutes of sheer boringness and unfunnyness grated away an additional half-star.    Starring Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Cheech Marin and Don Johnson. Directed by Ron Shelton. Written by John Norville and Ron Shelton. Produced by Gary Foster and David Lester. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated R for language and brief nudity. Running time: 134 min.
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