Cleaning Out The DVR: Seven Days In Utopia (dir by Matt Russell)


Last night, as a part of our attempt to make some space on the DVR so that I can record every upcoming episode of The Bachelorette and she can record the World Series, Erin and I watched the 2011 film, Seven Days In Utopia.

Seven Days In Utopia is a Texas-set (and Texas-filmed) movie about a young pro golfer named Luke Chisholm (played by Lucas Black) who has a very public meltdown while in the middle of a tournament. Feeling that his career is pretty much over, Luke jumps in his car and goes speeding around Southwest Texas. Because he’s not pay attention to the road (which, I’ll be honest, occasionally happens when you’re driving through rural Texas.), he almost doesn’t notice the cow standing in front of his car. Fortunately, Luke swerves and avoids the cow. Unfortunately, he crashes through a fence.

The fence belongs to Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall), a friendly rancher who — coincidence of coincidences — also happens to be a former pro golfer! With Luke’s car temporarily out-of-commission, he’s stuck in Utopia for at least seven days. Johnny offers to spend those days teaching Luke everything that he needs to know about golf and about life. Luke agrees, because what else are you going to do when you’re stranded in Uvalde County?

Seven Days In Utopia is one of the few films in my lifetime to have been released with G rating and it pretty much earns that G-rating by being the most inoffensive film ever made. Seven Days in Utopia is almost aggressive in its pleasantness. Johnny is very nice. Luke is very nice. Just about everyone that Luke plays against is pretty nice. Everyone in town is pretty nice, even if they do give Luke a hard time about being a “city boy.” Deborah Ann Woll plays the nice waitress at the local diner, with whom Luke has a very pleasant romance. Woll and Black make for a cute couple and they have a nice chemistry. They’re all very pleasant.

Seven Days In Utopia is one of those films that you end up watching when you need something to watch with an older relative who doesn’t understand why “all the movies nowadays have to use all that language!” It’s an old-fashioned movie. That, in itself, is hardly a problem for me. I like old movies and, despite my love of horror as a genre, I can also appreciate movies that are not meant to traumatize the audience. For that matter, I like Lucas Black and I like Deborah Ann Woll. As for Robert Duvall — I mean, My God, he’s one of the last of the great character actors. He’s Boo Radley and Tom Hagen, for God’s sake! Of course, I love Robert Duvall and Duvall really is probably the only actor who could make an idealized character like Johnny Crawford into a real human being. That said, Seven Days In Utopia is also a rather slow film. The pacing will make you feel all seven of those days and the lessons that Johnny teaches to Lucas aren’t particularly profound once you look beyond the fact that they’re being taught by legitimate great actor Robert Duvall. It’s an nice film and the scenery is pretty but, while watching it, it’s hard not to miss the anarchistic spirit of golfers like Shooter McGavin and Happy Gilmore.

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