CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Preachy, Absurd ‘Seven Days in Utopia’ Weakens Own Message
CHICAGO – What do Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo have in common? They both have won an Oscar and they both cashed a paycheck for the fake virtuous hack job called “Seven Days in Utopia.” For Duvall especially, maybe the mortgage payment is due on the vacation home.
Utopia takes a unholy sport, golf, and tries to bless it with some sort of come-to-Jesus importance that ends up being embarrassing for all involved (again, especially Duvall). In a story that only could be invented in the mind of a feverish Christian golf addict, Utopia can only exist within that segment of the United States population who long for something this country has never had.
Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black) is a rising Texas golf pro who flakes out on the final hole of a Lone Star State golf tournament that he has well in hand. He takes some bad advice from his caddie, who is also his father (Joseph Lyle Taylor), as he melts down. This is indicative of the pressure that Daddy has put on him his entire life, and he leaves the tourney in a huff, peeling rubber and driving into the Texas void.
He ends up wrecking his car in Utopia, Texas (he almost hits a cow, ha-ha), and is found by a lovable old coot named Johnny (Robert Duvall), who happens to be a a former golf pro. How fortuitous for Luke! In between staying at the Old Country Inn, run by the irascible Mabel (Kathy Baker), and wooing the town virgin, Sarah (Deborah Ann Woll), Luke learns to channel his rage into something more important, like using a bizarre putter and a Bible to win golf tournaments. Oh yeah, there’s the Widow Lily (Melissa Leo), mother of Sarah, and the old villain-who- turns-out-to-be-a-friend, Jake (Brian Geraghty).
Photo credit: Van Redin for Utopia Pictures