THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE | EW.com

Movies

THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE

STARRING MATT DAMON, WILL SMITH, CHARLIZE THERON, BRUCE MCGILL, JOEL GRETSCH, JACK LEMMON DIRECTED BY ROBERT REDFORD

BUZZ-O-METER 5

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Will Smith as God (sort of).

”It’s a story about redemption,” says producer Michael Nozik, who runs Redford’s production company Wildwood Enterprises. ”All of his films — Ordinary People, The Horse Whisperer, A River Runs Through It — are about second chances.” Based on Steven Pressfield’s 1995 novel about a WWI hero (Damon) who takes on two pro golfers in a local tournament with the help of a mysterious caddie named Bagger Vance (Smith), the film is also about second thoughts. Redford had planned to star with Morgan Freeman before deciding they were both too old. And after Brad Pitt passed, Damon got the go-ahead. While Pressfield’s book is a retelling of Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad, Bagger Vance — get it?), the film is no trip to the ashram. ”In the book, Bagger Vance is a sage-like character,” says Nozik. ”In the movie, he’s more like a Native American coyote trickster.” So, is he a ghost? ”You don’t ever know where he comes from or where he’s going,” says Theron. But, Nozik is quick to say, Smith’s character won’t go too far out: ”He doesn’t walk through trees or anything.” (Aug. 4)