Title: The Short Game
Fix: Documentary, Squee
Eight grade-school golfers must navigate parents, coaches, and their own pint-sized rivals as they compete in a junior-level championship at the prestigious Pinehurst golf course in North Carolina.
LITTLE KIDS. PLAYING GOLF. Not only is it adorable, it's also insanely impressive, because these kids have the skills to pay the bills. They're dedicated, and they're passionate, and they're SO TINY. In addition to the golf course, they face an array of challenges, from autism to racism to overbearing parents, but their love of golf motivates them to keep on swingin'.
This is a documentary, so unless you happen to follow wee golf, you won't recognize any of the major players (although a few seasoned golf pros make an appearance). But it won't take long for you to become obsessed with some of these kids, because they are SO FREAKING GREAT.
Zamokuhle is from South Africa, and he has by far the most charming personality of the bunch. He's a total riot, and his beaming optimism is shared by his father, who deserves to win the film's Parent MVP award.
Alexa Pano and Allan Kournikova
Alexa and Allan (who, yes, is the brother of Anna) share a friendship that delightfully borders on romance, although both of them get grossed out when anyone mentions the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend." Allan is definitely a character, and his views on nutrition deserve their own internet meme.
I also want to give a shout-out to Jed Dy (an autistic boy from the Philippines) and teeny Sky Sudberry and her dad, who makes the most progress on the road from overbearing coach to supportive caddy.
But really, all of these kids are amazing, and I had the opportunity to sit behind most of them during a screening last year at SXSW. It was undoubtedly the cutest movie experience I've ever had.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
It's impossible to watch this movie without placing bets on who will win the tournament, so make the most of it and invite some friends (and their cash) over. Plus, the tension surrounding those last few holes is more bearable when you can spread it out amongst an audience.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: On Par
The Short Game doesn't need alcohol to be enjoyed, but like a cooler of beer on a golf cart, drinking can only enhance your experience.
Use of Your Netflix Subscription: Hole in One
I never gave a crap about golf, but then this movie came along and added kids to the mix, and suddenly, I AM SUPER INTO GOLF. Sparkling with humor, this documentary celebrates skilled athletes who just so happen to be children, and the insight it provides on parenting, sports culture and the resilient spirit of youth is both inspiring and thoroughly entertaining.
Now I'm just praying for a sequel involving toddlers and tiny golf shoes.