The modest golf-and-gambling caper "The Squeeze" tees itself up for B-movie pleasures, only to replace charm with cookie-cutter.
Writer-director Terry Jastrow introduces his small-town hero Augie (Jeremy Sumpter) — a young Southern golf prodigy with U.S. Open dreams, an insouciant sense of humor and a broken home life to escape — as if "Cocktail"-era Tom Cruise were still the ideal leading-man mold, and Sumpter is engaging enough to make it work.
Even the first slather of hokum — the elegantly attired professional gambler Riverboat (an especially oily Christopher McDonald) and his coquettish wife (Katherine LaNasa), who lure Augie into a run of golf course hustles throughout the South — carries fleeting moments. But when it leads to a high stakes bet against a sour Las Vegas gangster (Michael Nouri) who doesn't like to lose, "The Squeeze" hits a sand trap.
Augie's girlfriend (Jillian Murray), a sexy, cutoffs-wearing Bible thumper with attitude, fears her dude's fast-money temptations will lead him straight to hell. No, just a limbo of lost-soul clichés, win-or-die preposterousness and plot cheats to make any aficionado of Big Match movies roll the eyes. Between plot and character, there are definitely 18 holes in "The Squeeze."
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexuality, language, drug material, thematic elements.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.