Movie review: “The Squeeze” Brings Golf, Gambling and the Semi-Return of Shooter McGavin To Your Screen

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Update: “The Squeeze” came out on DVD on June 9th

In 1986, Paul Newman and Tom Cruise teamed up to make a sequel to “The Hustler” called “The Color of Money,” a road-trip film about a pool hustler and his protégé.

Trade green felt for green grass and you’ve got a rough outline of “The Squeeze.”

In this case, Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin from “Happy Gilmore”) is a gambler like Newman and named Riverboat, and Jeremy Sumpter (“Peter Pan”) is the Cruise-equivalent undiscovered golf protégé named Augie.

Riverboat aims to pit the modest-appearing Augie in high stakes matches that supposedly harken back to the earliest days of the game. (The film is based on the real-life exploits of a golfer named Keith Platt.) The tandem eventually teams up for a high-stakes finale in Vegas shot at the spectacular Wynn Resort and Casino course.

I won’t spoil the ending other than to say it’s a thriller with a twist that leaves you guessing as to the actual outcome.

I wasn’t sure if the ending worked when I first watched it, but another friend viewing it for the first time enjoyed the ambiguity. You’ll have to decide for yourself after it comes out on VOD, iTunes and select theaters on April 17th.

As a genre, golf movies are few and far between (the last you likely saw was yet another “Tin Cup” re-rerun on The Golf Channel). But director and writer Terry Jastrow’s film certainly adds something unique to the mix.

McDonald as Riverboat channels Shooter McGavin’s slick, conniving ways and combines them with a little more charm and Southern business saavy, that is if your business is playing the odds. He really carries the film, but Auggie is no slouch, nor is his game.

Jastrow got 1,000 applicants for the part, which mandated a 5-handicap or less. A final call of eight to 10 players/actors made the cut to audition on the first tee at Bel Air Country Club in LA.

“I wanted to see these guys play under pressure, be it before me or with camera’s rolling,” Jastrow said during a teleconference promoting the picture. “Jeremy hit a 300-yard drive and made a bunker shot.

“I said, ‘We found our Augie.’”

The golf scenes measure up to the skill and authenticity Jastrow sought. You won’t be disappointed. And one particular trick shot will likely teach you a new use for your putter.

Jastrow knows a thing or two about authenticity in sports. He was under the tutelage of the legendary Roone Arledge at ABC Sports and won seven Emmys.

Besides the authenticity, the variety of the matches (they play cross-country to open film, for instance; this isn’t tournament golf) keeps you engaged and entertained.

The film culminates in a showdown between River Boat and Vegas gambling king pin Jimmy Diamonds (played by Michael Nouri) that turns life or death for Augie.

The poker scene that leads to the final golf showdown has been praised for its authenticity as well, but it’s the golf that gets you and keeps you until the end.

For a movie with a smaller theater release, it’s a major when it comes to getting a lot right about the game and making it fun to follow to the very end.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaR8BTP0XdI

The Squeeze is now featured on iTunes Movie Trailers.

Link: iTunes- The Squeeze

Available in Selected Theaters, VOD and iTunes

APRIL 17th