review for Tin Cup on AllMovie

Tin Cup (1996)
by Karl Williams review

The best sports comedy from co-writer/director Ron Shelton since Bull Durham (1988), this lively, funny character-driven piece is a kinder, gentler, and, since the subject is golf instead of baseball, more pastoral film than the one that made Shelton and star Kevin Costner famous. That doesn't mean that it's less of a movie, as Shelton offers up a handful of memorable scenes, one a classic involving the protagonist's inability, down to a seemingly genetic level, to make the smart play. Like so much of the rest of the film, it is a breathtaking bit of writing in its giddy duality, presenting the hero as both heartbreakingly stupid and yet simultaneously noble (and ultimately, right). Costner, who is sometimes unintentionally funny in the sort of smart, competent roles he usually takes, is perfectly likable and winning as a talented dope. Supporting work is uniformly good, with Rene Russo effectively brittle in the smart female lead role usually inhabited by Shelton's wife, Lolita Davidovich, and the future Nash Bridges pairing of Don Johnson and Cheech Marin winning in comic roles as, respectively, the film's antagonist and the hero's guy Friday. As proven by the later failure of The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), golf is a tough, slow-moving sport for cinematic translation, making Shelton's achievement with Tin Cup (1996) all the more impressive.