Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Squeeze: Wrist Breaks and Other Golf Dangers
Baccus has a heck of a swing and a solid short game, but he makes Happy Gilmore
look like a genius. Unfortunately, he also lacks the popular Adam Sandler
character’s toughness. That will become a serious problem when he gets
entangled with some dodgy professional gamblers in Terry Jastrow’s The Squeeze (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in select cities.
is a dirt poor, but amiable young kid, going nowhere in rural Texas. However,
he can shoot the lights out on a golf course. When the slicker-than-slick gambler
known as Riverboat happens to hear his impossibly low scoring amateur tourney
victory on the radio while passing through town, he recognizes an opportunity
worth taking a detour. With the backing of his lover-accomplice, “The Bank,”
Riverboat convinces Baccus to play for him in a series of high-stakes money
games, sort of like Cruise and Newman in The
Color of Money, but without the grit.
course, Baccus’s girlfriend Natalie is against the arrangement from the start,
for moral reasons as well as the waves of bad vibes cascading off Riverboat.
Baccus jumps in anyway, hoping to score some money for his battered mother and his
beloved little sister. Inconveniently, Natalie’s concerns are soon justified in
Las Vegas, where both Riverboat and mobbed-up gambler Jimmy Diamonds put the
titular squeeze on Baccus before his million dollar match with the top-ranked
Tin Cup was such a great
golf film because it captured the inviting feeling of a lush green course on a
sunny day that is not too hot and has a pleasant breeze blowing. The Squeeze does not do that, but at
least it honestly seems to enjoy the game, beyond using it as a plot device.
Jeremy Sumpter was cast as Baccus because of his golf skills, which makes
sense, because his bland white-bread screen presence doesn’t do much to move
the needle. While the film is ostensibly about Baccus (modeled on the real life
Texas Phenom Keith Flatt), it is much more interested in Riverboat’s Cheshire cat
grin and Natalie’s legs. As the latter, Jillian Murray (from Cabin Fever: Patient Zero) certainly
looks the part and expresses Natalie’s ethical and religious reservations
without sounding hopelessly moralistic, which is something.
Christopher McDonald is the real show. Essentially, he revisits his Shooter
McGavin persona from Happy Gilmore,
but takes delight in upping the villainous ante. He is consistently fun to
watch, but Michael Nouri looks kind of weird as the bleach blond Diamonds. What
was that all about?
Jastrow and his wife, co-producer Anne Archer
have been dubbed “Super Scientologists” in the media, but it is hard to pick up
on any overt references to Overlord Xenu or “Suppressive People” in The Squeeze. Frankly, it is largely
rather by-the-numbers stuff, but McDonald makes it worth watching on cable or Netflix
streaming. He can slyly turn a witty line and then pull off a goofy bit of
physical comedy. Honorary Oscars ought to go to character actor mainstays like
him, but instead they are determined by Hollywood popularity contests. Mostly
just a harmless time-kill, golf movie fans can safely wait when The Squeeze opens Friday (4/17) in
Denver at the AMC Highlands Ranch and Los Angeles at the Laemmle Playhouse.
Labels: Gambling films