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I’ve never been particularly inspired by golf. Admittedly, the extent of my golfing experience is having watched contestants play Hole in One on The Price Is Right. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the gut-wrenching beauty of a sport: My heart soared along with Roy Hobbs’ klieg-shattering final home run in The Natural. I get misty-eyed during the presentation of the Stanley Cup. But even after watching Robert Redford’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, my opening statement remains true: I’ve never been particularly inspired by golf. And thus the movie, at least by Field of Dreams standards, fails. Will Smith plays the title character, a gee-golly black man who appears out of nowhere to help pro golfer Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), a former fortunate son whose experiences in World War I (here, the film briefly turns rather Saving Private Ryan, but much more prettily) have left him mentally, er, handicapped. Having decided to spend his postwar years drinking and playing poker incognito instead of returning to the public life in Savannah, Ga., Junuh is one day needled into entering a high-stakes golf tournament hosted by his ex, Adele (Charlize Theron). After 10 years of slumming, Junuh needs some help working out the kinks in his gameand the demons in his head. So along comes Bagger: Affable, Zen-like, and unfailingly willing to help out the po’ boy with whatever’s ailing him, Bagger seems heaven-sent. Although Junuh continues sucking through much of the tournament, Bagger’s infinite wisdom (which consists, as far as I could tell, of alternating mildly sarcastic, Will Smith-like remarks with barely audible nuggets of inspiration) eventually helps Junuh’s game, lifts the townspeople’s spirits, and damn well frees Savannah from the grips of the Great Depression. The actors do their best with what they’re givenTheron allows the camera to love her, Damon adds a believable, tortured-soul quality to his usual prettiness, and Smith has merely to raise his eyebrows in a bemused expression to make viewers giggle with he’s-so-charming! gleebut the uncomfortable, throwback characterizations of the subservient, ungrammatical black man and the well-to-do Southern white folk do little to engage the audience. For a true sports high, try ESPN. Tricia Olszewski