×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Tiger Woods Story

The Tiger Woods Story" is pretty much everything we'd expect from a biography made about an athlete who is barely old enough to drink. It uses the golf club as a paint-by-numbers brush to depict the youthful golf legend of the title as a sensitive, single-minded talent whose most valuable driver isn't in his golf bag but is half-bagged, period: his chain-smoking, beer-swigging, overbearing daddy Earl. Oddly enough, it's not an especially unflattering portrayal of either man, since the film lacks the illumination to be truly negative.

With:
Earl Woods...............Keith David Tiger Woods (age 14+)....Khalil Kain Tida Woods............Freda Foh Shen Tiger (age 9-13)....Gary Le'roi Gray Tiger (age 3-5)............T.J. Hall Jerry Chang.................John Cho Holly.............Kathryn Dora Brown Hank Aaron...............Albert Hall Announcer #1...........Roger Twibell Announcer #2..........John Schroeder

The Tiger Woods Story” is pretty much everything we’d expect from a biography made about an athlete who is barely old enough to drink. It uses the golf club as a paint-by-numbers brush to depict the youthful golf legend of the title as a sensitive, single-minded talent whose most valuable driver isn’t in his golf bag but is half-bagged, period: his chain-smoking, beer-swigging, overbearing daddy Earl. Oddly enough, it’s not an especially unflattering portrayal of either man, since the film lacks the illumination to be truly negative.

This unauthorized biopic, made under the “Showtime Original Pictures for Kids” banner, seems to be imparting the message to kids that they too can be a golf prodigy collecting championships and raking in $100 million in endorsements by the age of 21 if they have a military-trained disciplinarian for a father, a demure-but-strong Asian-American mother and the determination to overcome the ignorance and prejudice that comes with being caught between two racial/ethnic groups.

C’mon, kids, let’s get out there and hit those links!

Based on the book “Tiger” by journalist John Strege and directed by LeVar Burton in his TV-movie helming debut (Woods was all of a year old when Burton was starring in “Roots”), the film finds Burton actually coaxing some surprisingly strong performances from Keith David as the hulking Earl, Khalil Kain as the adolescent and adult Tiger and T.I. Hall as the very young (ages 3-5) golfing phenom who is shown hustling a club pro at the age of 3.

But try as Burton might to keep “The Tiger Woods Story” centered and vital, it’s undone by a Takashi A. Bufford script that’s all over the map, flashing back to Woods’ spectacularly dominant Masters performance and then whipping back and forth through the various events in his childhood and teenhood like a tot in desperate need of Ritalin.

The project is also, frankly, mislabeled. It is perhaps more “The Earl Woods Story” than that of “Tiger” as the teleplay centers its focus on Earl’s frequent lectures and his platitude-spouting, which come from a need that we are led to believe somehow sprouted from his military training.

Tiger, meanwhile, is portrayed as a kid whose superstar talent was called up almost effortlessly and who took the racism in his midst pretty much in stride. That, we’re told, was due to the spiritual influence of his Thai-born mother Tida (Freda Foh Shen), who is reduced here to a series of disapproving looks and phrases (“Eat your broccoli!”) and Eastern Philosophy blather.

As for those raging Tiger hormones, well, let’s just say that he apparently hasn’t been scoring quite as many eagles with the ladies.

Frustrated Girlfriend: “I’m second to golf, second to economics, second to calculus — and now I’m second to Arnold Palmer!” Yeah, well, Arnie’s cuter.

“The Tiger Woods Story” is a tepid, if noble, attempt to wring drama from the tale of one of the great pure athletes of our time. Unfortunately, Tiger is a little young for the bio treatment, and it shows. Thirty years from now, this guy’s story will probably make one helluva flick. This ain’t it.

Tech credits are solid.

The Tiger Woods Story

Showtime; Sun. April 12, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in San Diego by Showtime Networks and MTV Prods. in association with Paramount Network TV. Executive producers, Ken Mok, Dawn Parouse; producer, Jerry Goldman; director, LeVar Burton; writer, Takashi A. Bufford; based on the book "Tiger" by John Strege

Crew: Camera, Frank Byers; editor, Tom Walls; music, Camara Kambon; production designer, Bruce Buchner; art director, John Josselyn; sound, Peter Halbert; casting, Ellie Kanner. 90 MIN.

With: Earl Woods...............Keith David Tiger Woods (age 14+)....Khalil Kain Tida Woods............Freda Foh Shen Tiger (age 9-13)....Gary Le'roi Gray Tiger (age 3-5)............T.J. Hall Jerry Chang.................John Cho Holly.............Kathryn Dora Brown Hank Aaron...............Albert Hall Announcer #1...........Roger Twibell Announcer #2..........John Schroedercamera, Frank Byers; editor, Tom Walls; music, Camara Kambon; production designer, Bruce Buchner; art director, John Josselyn; sound, Peter Halbert; casting, Ellie Kanner. 90 MIN.

More Film

  • Gwyneth Paltrow Variety Cover Story

    Gwyneth Paltrow Talks About Her Biggest Fights With Harvey Weinstein

    In this week’s Variety cover story, Gwyneth Paltrow looks back on the 20th anniversary of winning the best actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” The movie still holds up today, although there’s an ominous figure lurking in the credits. The romantic comedy was produced by Harvey Weinstein, and Paltrow spoke about working for the volcanic [...]

  • Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's

    Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's New Podcast Division (EXCLUSIVE)

    Entertainment studio Imperative Entertainment has hired producer Jason Hoch to lead its newly formed podcast division, Variety has learned. The new division will create and produce podcasts based on both original ideas and third-party IP, in addition to exploring opportunities within the company’s existing slate of feature and TV projects. Hoch has over 20 years [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow 'Avengers: Infinity War' film

    Gwyneth Paltrow to Exit Marvel Cinematic Universe

    For the last decade, Gwyneth Paltrow has popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Pepper Potts, Iron Man’s secretary and eventual girlfriend. But in an interview with Variety, the actress said that she’s planning on retiring the character after this summer’s “Avengers: Endgame.” “I mean, I’m a bit old to be in a suit [...]

  • Oscars Predictions Final

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, and Who Should?

    At 5 p.m. Tuesday on the west coast it’ll be pencils down for Oscar voters, so to speak. Or maybe in an era of online voting, it’s more like laptops closed. Either way, polling for the 91st annual Academy Awards officially concludes in a few short hours. Five days from now, we’ll find out which [...]

  • Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never

    Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never Look Away' for U.K.

    Modern Films has snagged U.K. and Ireland rights to “Never Look Away,” the German-language Oscar entry from “The Lives of Others” helmer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The multi-generational story follows a young art student (Tom Schilling), who falls in love with a fellow student (Paula Beer). Her father (Sebastian Koch), a renowned doctor, disapproves of [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content