Why Tin Cup Is Among Kevin Costner's Best Movies - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Why Tin Cup Is Among Kevin Costner's Best Movies

Roy McAvoy, the driving-range pro at the center of writer/director Ron Shelton’s 1996 golf comedy, Tin Cup, is kind of a bum. He’s disheveled. He’s lazy. He’s approaching middle age but lives in a busted-up Winnebago. He’s not terribly bright. He’s technically the hero of the film, although it’d be tough to label him as heroic. He’s a slob. But here’s the thing about Roy -- he’s played by Kevin Costner, past his career apex at that point but still near his movie-star prime. In Costner’s hands, none of that other stuff matters. He makes Roy one of cinema’s most likable slackers, someone who could share a beer or some ill-conceived wisdom with Jeff Bridges’ The Dude or Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson and feel totally in sympatico.

And yet Roy McAvoy is not held in such high regard as those others. That’s what happens when your little golf movie fails to remain in the public consciousness the way The Big Lebowski or Dazed and Confused or even Shelton and Costner’s own Bull Durham have. But as Tin Cup turns 25 years old this month, I’d argue it’s time to give McAvoy his due as a world-class slacker of filmdom while at the same time show regret over the fact that it now feels like a bit of an outlier in Costner’s overall career. Sure, he first made himself known playing charmingly mischievous characters in films like Fandango and Silverado, but that part of his big-screen presence quickly faded into the background as he took on the stoic, soft-spoken, more blatantly heroic roles that made him one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. The Untouchables. Dances with Wolves. The Bodyguard. It became obvious that, as an actor, Costner was drawn to films where he could play variations of the quiet-but-soulful cowboy archetype from the western genre that he so clearly loved (and often contributed to directly in films like Wyatt Earp and Open Range).

Do you know what two movies bookend Tin Cup on the Costner filmography? Waterworld and The Postman. Look, I like both of those movies (sue me), but taking them on over the span of just two years not only made for good Hollywood gossip (as they both were considered huge misfires) but also cemented a certain image of Costner the movie star in a lot of people’s minds. He’s super serious. He’s ruggedly handsome and will get the girl. But he’s not exactly a barrel of fun.

RELATED: 'Waterworld' Isn’t a Good Movie, But I Can’t Stop Watching It

Roy McAvoy, however, is fun. Roy McAvoy is a lot of fun. So is his best friend, caddie, and Winnebago roommate Romeo, who’s played by Cheech Marin in one of his most underrated roles. Technically, Tin Cup qualifies as a romantic comedy, as part of the story involves Roy desperately trying to win the heart of a beautiful but flaky psychiatrist (Rene Russo) who is dating one of Roy’s much-more-successful golf rivals (Don Johnson). But the relationship that matters is not between Roy and the girl; it’s between Roy and Romeo. They have the best chemistry in the movie. Maybe Shelton wrote it into the script from the start or maybe he figured it out on the set, but one way or another everyone seems to have agreed to lean into it. One of Tin Cup’s funniest scenes has Roy trying to woo Romeo back after the latter has walked off the job (to be replaced by their other pal Earl) after one of Roy’s patented mid-round blowups. “When I was with Earl I was thinking of you!” Roy shouts. “Am I special?” Romeo asks, fishing for compliments.

Sure, it’s platonic, but these guys love each other. And they’ve got a small crew of layabouts who fill out their little gang of slackers and ne'er do wells. Tin Cup is a great hang-out movie, as it’s not hard to find yourself wishing you could spend a week or two at Roy’s driving range just drinking beer, watching armadillos cross the road, and betting on which insect will be the next to get blasted off the bug zapper. It may not be a successful, well-rounded existence, but it does seem like a peaceful one. And the movie makes no large argument against it. Though Roy does attempt to face down his inner demons and eventually competes in the prestigious U.S. Open, one of the biggest golf tournaments on the planet, he honestly doesn’t learn much over the course of the film and, in the end, finds himself pretty much exactly where he was at the start. (Except now he’s got the girl and possibly some brighter career options, should he choose to take them.)

Of course, Costner has busted out the charm in other roles, maybe most notably in Bull Durham. But even in that film, he is living by a pretty strict set of rules. Tin Cup has Costner playing the loosest character of his career. “I got to bob and weave around the facts of life, if you know what I mean,” he says at one point. Roy McAvoy -- “Tin Cup” to his friends -- is a mess of human being. And yet Costner, who first shows up on screen wearing a dirty white tank-top, beer bottle in hand, has perhaps never been more likable. Throughout the entire film there’s a twinkle in his eye and a sly grin on his face that makes it easy to understand how this guy became a superstar for a good decade or so. Looking back, it’s maybe just a little bit of shame that he didn’t put those gifts to use in more parts like this before he aged out of his matinee-idol period.

For those who just love “underdog” sports movies, there’s a brilliantly assembled sequence at the climax where Roy, on the final hole of a U.S. Open he has a chance to win, lets all his personal foibles get the best of him. He loses the championship but still manages to find his piece of golf immortality. It’s very cleverly conceived by Shelton and perfectly edited for maximum tension and emotional impact. But ultimately it's Costner who makes it all work. Make no mistake, it’s a complete performance. Catch the little bit of pain and regret in his eyes early on when, while describing the short follow-through of his golf swing, he admits that he never finishes anything in his life. But, for the most part, he’s busy giddily showing off his slacker side, which honestly may have been Costner's best side all along.

KEEP READING: 11 Notable Debuts from Actors Turned Directors



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