The Man With the Perfect Swing

1995, NR, 95 min. Directed by Michael Hovis. Starring James Black, Suzanne Savoy, Marco Perella, James Belcher.

REVIEWED By Patrick Taggart, Fri., Nov. 3, 1995

This is a reprint of the Austin Chronicle review that ran in March when this film premiered in Austin at the SXSW FIlm Festival. “It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.” Or, as this very good first feature by writer-director Michael Hovis might have it, just make sure you get to the ballpark. Or the golf course. At the center is middle-aged, faded athlete Anthony “Babe” Lombardo, a college baseball star who briefly played professionally. Usually broke and out of a job, he survives on the rare profits from his line of dubiously conceived golf accessories. Mostly responsible for his continued existence is wife Susan, who is as pretty and willowy as Babe is plain and lumpy. She provides patience and support, somehow believing that one day one of Babe's schemes will pay off. Then one day Babe discovers “the key” to the perfect golf swing. He goes to the course and shoots a 69, handily beating the Runyanesque mobsters who have taken him to the cleaners so many times. From there, he tries to get a friend (Austin's always reliable Marco Perella) to produce a video of the swing, thus enabling Babe to escape his creditors and become something more than a sofa hold-down at home. Be assured, the movie is in no way an instructional film for weekend duffers; this “perfect swing” is a MacGuffin if ever there was one. At its core, The Man With the Perfect Swing is a funny, touching, and affectionate character piece driven by humor and evolving relationships. This is a first feature for Hovis, who lives in Wimberley, and his experience in Houston as a director and producer of many corporate films and commercials have clearly served him well. Technically, the film is first-class. But its primary appeal is its warmth and wit, both of a kind seldom seen in mainstream features. James Black and Suzanne Savoy, as Babe and Susan, handle their chores effortlessly.

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