Movie Review - The Battle of The Sexes
44 years ago this week, tennis history was made. Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), the former No. 1 player in the world and tennis hall of famer challenged the top women's tennis player in the world to a winner take all $100k prize. The match named 'Battle of the Sexes' was set to prove that a woman could never beat a man, especially one that's been retired for 14 years. After the one sided defeat of Women's No.1 Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee), Riggs challenged tennis star Billie Jean King (Emma Stone). King, an advocate for women's rights and equal pay originally turned down Riggs' request for a match but, with the self proclaimed male chauvinist making a mockery of women's tennis and by extension women's liberation; Billie Jean agrees to the match.
Battle of the Sexes focuses on the former star turned gambling addict/hustler Riggs and King's fight for equality, while dealing with her own career and marriage, which is threatened by King's affair with her hairdresser. Both Stone and Carell are great as King and Riggs. Though it was obvious that doubles were used during the tennis scenes, it's Stone's off court range from fiery determination against smug males, who refuse to take women's athletics seriously to her innocence, juggling her marriage and then taboo same sex relationship.
Backed by a great supporting cast of Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming and Bill Pullman, Battle of the Sexes will certainly resonate with audiences today. My only gripe is a minor one. The tennis sequences weren't very impressive. Most of the shots were wide shots of the court, which made the play less compelling. It'd be like watching the events of Rocky from the 10th row. Granted the 'Battle' wasn't much as the result was a one sided win in straight sets, I wished the film made the titular match more compelling. But if that's the only problem, it's a good problem to have. As we approach Oscar season, Battle of the Sexes may be the first entrant on your Oscar scorecard.
Rated: PG-13 @ 121mins