This low-budget inspirational tale never supplies key incidents from its real-life antihero's biography with any psychological acuity, leaving viewers with a glorified home movie about someone you don't know and don't care to.
Having blossomed early as a college football hero and fancy restaurateur, middle-aged Babe Lombardo (James Black) scrounges to make a living. Financially and emotionally supported by his wife, Susan (Suzanne Savoy), Babe fights depression as he hustles a few bucks with amateur golfing bets.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul, he talks trusting clients into prepayment of late shipments and forever promises admiring backer Lou Gallo (James Belcher) profits from his latest pie-in-the-sky sports equipment invention.
Recalling how his dad cheated Babe's father out of a grocery business, mobster Bonelli (Richard Bradshaw) takes a dim view of Babe's welching on golf wagers and becomes apoplectic when Babe finally outplays him one day. When not risking his meager earnings on bets, Babe develops what he feels is
the perfect golf swing, adaptable to any player. With the IRS breathing down his neck, Babe tries to package his discovery as a video through old pal Chuck (Marco Perella). Protecting his last chance at the big time, Babe goes for broke on marketing his perfect swing video through the endorsement
of an up-and-coming champ, Tony Scardino (Bill Dando). Backed into a corner after spokesperson Scardino proves a liability due to an undiagnosed eye problem, Babe decides to try to qualify for the Pro Tour at La Quinta. Exceeding beyond expectations, he still doesn't make the final cut. Finally,
one of his golf merchandise inventions sells with enough profit to keep Babe out of the red.
If the self-deceived producers of THE MAN WITH THE PERFECT SWING hoped to cash in on the success of TIN CUP (1996), they should have guessed again. In opting for deglamorized realism, they deprive the audience of the uplift they expect from these neo-Frank Capra exercises. Despite all negative
feedback to the contrary, the filmmakers present this material as a sports fairy tale about a little guy beating the odds. Does Babe's never-say-die attitude really signal success or delusion? Even for the viewer who's conditioned by his own share of evanescent pipe dreams and dwindling career
options after 40, this film is a downer. All that registers is the daunting perspective of never-ending financial losses. More damagingly, it may be difficult for the viewer to indulge this professional backslapper and his last chance at the brass ring.
Because Babe occasionally lives off his wife, takes loyal friends to the cleaners, and never considers working at something practical to bankroll his goals, the audience is asked to identify with a loser. We're supposed to admire his determination; what we end up feeling is turned off by his
chutzpah. (Extreme profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: This low-budget inspirational tale never supplies key incidents from its real-life antihero's biography with any psychological acuity, leaving viewers with a glorified home movie about someone you don't know and don't care to. Having blossomed early as a… (more)