There are certain studios that find their way by making smaller budget, almost indie, films with talented, well known, actors. In this particular case, Fox Searchlight Studios decided to tell the real life story of Tennis greats Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It was a spectacle for everyone who saw it live. So, does “Battle of the Sexes” serve us a champions story or does it double fault its way in and out theaters. Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
First, we can look at the cast for this film as diverse, in that, many of the faces I don’t recall seeing on screen together. Outside of that, I wasn’t overly wowed by any of the performances because I received the caliber of talent that I expected to receive from each actor. In general, I thought the acting in this film was the high point. Plus, it was nice to see Natalie Morales in the film because I enjoyed the performance she gave in the hit TV show “Parks and Rec.” Also, Sarah Silverman plays a great older jewish woman who has a smoking addiction and enjoys managing women’s tennis players.
The overall story I wasn’t familiar with despite its notoriety. All I knew was a dude and a lady were competing in a tennis match and the whole world was tuning in to watch. So, when I walked into the theater I was pretty open minded regarding the story that was about to be told. Curiously, the story wasn’t the story advertised. It was, in fact, only a small portion of the actual movie. The actual story revolves around Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and her determination to be a pioneer for women’s rights, her love affair with her hair dresser, the divorce of her marriage and her eventual victory over the chauvinist Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell). I felt mislead once the credits started rolling because I was under the impression that I would be getting a sports movie. Instead, I was given a lesbian love affair with a strong feminist message that had sports peppered throughout until the very end of the film in which we see the famed event unfold. It felt like the final tennis match was just a metaphor for the entire pro feminist message in the film which makes the title “battle of the sexes” misleading, in my opinion. More appropriately, the title I feel should have been, “The Billie Jean King Story.” The film as a whole had more to do with her life than tennis (even though her life was tennis).
“Battle of the Sexes” is in theaters now! If you don’t mind two women making out on screen then you won’t be offended by this film. It’s a very well acted piece however you do need to keep in mind that it’s not about tennis. Tennis is the resolving plot point that, again, felt more like a metaphor than a resolution/conclusion. This is the Billie Jean King story and if you’re interested in her life, the struggles she went through and her love of tennis, I think you’ll appreciate that story. It does feel like a Hallmark or Lifetime film at points and it’s based on a true story that you might enjoy it during matinee prices.