Sunday, September 4, 2011

Movie Review: Seven Days in Utopia

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The unofficial end of summer is upon us and I was looking for something different to wrap up the season. One film in the listings caught my attention as I had not seen any previews for it but it was playing at both of the art house theaters in town. Not seeing any previews can either be a good thing or a bad thing. So with only that it was listed for the two theaters to go on, I got my QR code for one of the free one million bags of popcorn from Yahoo! and Regal Cinemas and headed out. During the course of the movie there were a total of six people in the theater for first show of the day.

Seven Days in Utopia Movie Poster
Seven Days in Utopia is based on a David L Cook's book Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. The movie had some star power with Academy Award winners Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo. It also reunited Duvall with Lucas Black who starred with each other in 2009's Get Low. A golfer, Luke Chisholm (Black) after having a very bad round unexpectedly ends up in Utopia, TX where he meets Johnny Crawford (Duvall). Crawford had seen Chisholm's melt down on TV and tells him that if he stays in Utopia for seven days he can help him work through the situation. Chisholm takes up Crawford's offer.

So, if you take a bit of love of golf and the love of the purity of the sport from The Legend of Bagger Vance, some of Mister Miyagi's style of off beat training methods from the original Karate Kid and some of the elements of story telling from best selling self-help books' author Og Mandino, you have an outline of elements and devices of the story laid before you. Going into the 99 minute movie I had no idea what to expect, I took it on faith that it would be a decent movie. While the visuals which were actually shot in Utopia, TX were very compelling and from a production and acting stance were top notch, the story being told and therefore the editing to tell the story were a bit uneven. The attempts to give the back story via flash backs worked to an extent. The trust and openness between Crawford and Chisholm seemed really deep for two people who had just met. The people of Utopia, all 375 of them, seemed very warm and receiving of Chisholm which seems so unlike life today.

Ultimately, it is a feel good movie with a touch of a redemption story of sorts folded into the sports story script. At the end of seven days when Chisholm is about to leave town the connection between the characters is very tight given the time frame they had been together. The overall tenor and tone of the movie reminded me of a movie that I saw the better part of ten years ago called The Legend of Johnny Lingo. Chances are you didn't see that movie either. If you have a chance to find it via a streaming site or a DVD rental it also leaves you feeling good plus you'll love the views of the beaches and waters of the Cook Islands. Heading back up to the Lone Star state, Seven Days in Utopia will leave you feeling the same except for the very end of the movie. The move that I had never seen before in a movie was a very bold approach done by the marketing department. I'm like "WHAT! How could you do that in the movie!" It was very effective in that it had me thinking about the movie when I got home several hours later.

When you SFT, See, Feel, Trust, the positive and inspirational message delivered by Lucas and Duvall, you'll totally understand why the movie has a G rating for general audiences. There is no easter egg at the end of the movie, but there is a good song that plays during credits if you choose to stay.

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