From the critically acclaimed directors of Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, comes the next film they’re hoping earns some award buzz, Battle of the Sexes.
Based on the true story, Battle of the Sexes is about the 1973 tennis match between the number one women’s tennis player in the world Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and the former champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).
It wasn’t just a championship that King and Riggs were playing for, either. King had recently been kicked out of the national tennis league because she was advocating for women tennis players to get paid the same amount as the men — which is more than fair, seeing how they draw in the same number of viewers. The owners wouldn’t have it and she was kicked out, but instead of moping about it she went on to form her own women’s tennis league — and it actually worked.
Bobby Riggs is a gambler and a hustler, always looking for a way to make a quick buck. And when he sees what’s going on in the world of tennis and what Billie Jean is doing, he gets his next big idea. He’s going to play the male chauvinist pig card — publicly state that he thinks women have no business on the court and men are superior in every way. Then he plans to challenge Billie Jean to a winner-take-all tennis match, which is sure to rake in millions of viewers (and dollars).
Billie Jean reluctantly accepts. She knows that Bobby is playing to the crowd on this — he most likely doesn’t actually believe what he’s saying — but this is her chance to fight for women’s rights, and she has to take it. King is also battling a love triangle of sorts, as she’s been happily married to Larry (Austin Stowell) for quite some time but has just recently begun having feelings for another woman named Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough).
Battle of the Sexes may not be a perfect movie, and it’s most likely not going to take home the best picture award this year. There are problems within the script, mostly being pacing issues. There’s a lot of ground that this movie has to cover — being a story about the women’s tennis league, the love story between Billie Jean and Marilyn and the Riggs vs. King tennis match — and it’s never quite able to hit the nail on the head for any of these stories quite as well as you might want. In retrospect, this really is three different movies rolled into one, only it never finds just the right balance that they were going for.
However, there is a lot that this movie does right, mostly within the characters of Billie Jean and Bobby. We understand where each of them are coming from, what motivates them and why this match is such a big deal to them. Billie Jean’s first love has been and always will be tennis. However, the conflicting emotions about how she feels towards Marilyn moves her into emotionally vulnerable territory.
When Bobby Riggs comes along, it throws everything off. And the movie really captures Bobby Riggs well. He’s not the one who actually believes what he’s saying — the rest of the world believes it, and he’s just giving it a face. It makes the final tennis match — which is filmed brilliantly — all the more intense, even though we already know the outcome seeing how it’s based on history, as we understand what’s at stake here.
Emma Stone and Steve Carell give two phenomenal performances of these historic figures. Stone has a possibility to be nominated for best actress depending on what the competition is like this year, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone else capturing Bobby Riggs in the energetic way that Carell does.
Battle of the Sexes is certainly a flawed movie, and does some things wrong along the way. But the things it does right, it does really right. This isn’t an overly dramatic film where it all weighs down on you, they keep it light while still letting you know what’s at stake here. And for that, the movie deserves our respect.
Watch the trailer for Battle of the Sexes here, and let us know what you thought of the movie in the comments below.
Game, set, match: 'Battle of the Sexes' movie review7
Great performances, captures the true story element and the complexity of it all well
Script is iffy in some places, jumps around between various storylines