Thursday, September 21, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Emma Stone & Steve Carell (r) star in Battle of the Sexes


Rotten Tomatoes Plot: In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women's movement, the 1973 tennis match between women's World #1 Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men's-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the Battle of the Sexes and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue.) Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today. Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris.

Dayton & Faris turn a 70s tennis spectacle into a cliché-ridden, sappy biopic that focuses (a lot) more on King's infidelity and sexuality, than it does tennis. In fact, Battle of the Sexes might be one of the worst sports movies ever made. How come? Look no further than its shoddy match footage, which features obvious stunt doubles. From the looks of it, I'd be surprised if either Carell or Stone knew how to spell tennis, yet alone play it. What's left? Most men (with the notable exception of fashion designers) are male chauvinist pigs. "Thanks" for the history lesson.

Grade: D-