- on Friday, 14 April 2017 13:52
- by Frank Wilkins
How does one draw enthusiasm and excitement from a film about the history of golf? In the case of Tommy’s Honour, one doesn’t.
In all fairness, the film isn’t about the history of golf, nor does it set out to be the next Tin Cup or Caddyshack. Regardless, its story, which is actually a father-son love drama, never quite manages an excitement level above that of, say, watching fairway grass grow.
Who better to direct than golf enthusiast and native Scot, Jason Connery (Sean’s son) who molds the storied game of golf around his tale of the two men who ushered in the modern golf game and even founded the Open Championship in 1860 which would later become the British Open.
The titular Tommy is “Young Tommy” Morris (Jack Lowden), son of golf course designer and master greenskeeper at the iconic St Andrews Links, “Old Tom” (Peter Mullan). Unlike his father, Young Tommy is a rebellious spirit, unhappy with the complacency of his underling status in the “clubbish” world of golf. He goes up against the rigid aristocracy of the day – led by Club of St. Andrews chief Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill) – which held that the club members would bet large sums of money on their favorite players and then “tip” a pittance to the winners.
Naturally, it takes an unwavering self-confidence and cajones the size of all of Scotland to blackmail the sport’s wealthy backers. But the Tiger Woods of his day believes in his own talent (he won his first of four Open Championships at the ripe age of 17) and sets out to market himself on a tour of the grand golf courses of Scotland with money paid up front... and based on his tournament performance. Naturally, Old Tom is appalled at his son’s garish arrogance in the face of the game’s nobility.
Forming the story’s backbone is the interpersonal tension between the young and old Toms. Young Tommy is on his way up while his aging father must find a way to come to grips with his lessening influence on both the game and the rearing of his son. A subplot involving Young Tommy’s love interest with ten-years-his-senior future wife Meg (Ophelia Lovibond, Guardians of the Galaxy) threatens to drive a wedge between the family as his God-fearing mother (Therese Bradley) struggles to reconcile her new daughter-in-law’s unsavory past.
To its credit, Tommy’s Honour is teeming with human conflict and interpersonal stress, but unfortunately, those are the film’s least interesting moments. Screenwriters Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook set out to make their story something grander and more monumental than just another sports drama, yet they can’t find an entertaining balance between character study and sports hero biopic. Their’s is a familial love story with father-son relationship underpinnings while the class-warfare struggles of a working family in the world of the aristocratic elite beat the drum of human emotions.
While those moments certainly get the majority of Connery’s attention, we’re always more interested in the golf, or anything, really, with a pulse. Connery’s leisurely pace and lingering close-ups always overshadow the story’s moments of achievement. The Morris story is a truly fascinating yet little-known real-life triumph of human spirit and historical import that deserves a worthy telling. But as told in Tommy’s Honour, the Morris legacy barely makes it past the ladies tees.
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, language and smoking.
Runtime: 117 mins
Director: Jason Connery
Writer: Pamela Marin, Kevin Cook
Cast: Ophelia Lovibond, Sam Neill, Peter Ferdinando
Genre: Sports | Drama
Tagline: The pride of a father. The love of a wife. The soul of a rebel. The heart of a champion.
Memorable Movie Quote: "A caddie's son you are, and a caddie you'll be."
Theatrical Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Official Site: http://www.tommyshonour.com/
Release Date: April 14, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details avilable.
Synopsis: TOMMY’S HONOUR is based on the powerfully moving true story of the challenging relationship between “Old” Tom and “Young” Tommy Morris, the dynamic father-son team who ushered in the modern game of golf. As their fame grew, Tom and Tommy, Scotland’s Golf Royalty, were touched by drama and personal tragedy. At first matching his father’s success, Tommy’s talent and fame grew to outshine his father’s accomplishments and respect as founder of the Open Championship in 1860 with a series of his own triumphs. But in contrast to Tommy’s public persona, his personal turmoil ultimately led him to rebel against both the aristocracy who gave him opportunity and the parents who shunned his passionate relationship with his wife.
No details available.