“Battle of the Sexes” is the Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs biopic about their legendary tennis match in September of 1973. It’s the story of the hype leading up to how the 55-year old Riggs got totally embarrassed on the court by the much younger King.
Ironically, the only thing I remember about the match — other than King easily blowing Riggs away — is a comment ABC legend Howard Cosell made in the match about how if King would lose the glasses and grow longer hair, she’d be a very attractive woman. It’s included in the film and made me laugh.
Very little else did.
Emma Stone and Steve Carrell star and are made up to look as much like their real-life characters as possible. Carrell — who is a genius at playing characters — has a non-tennis advantage playing the over-the-top Riggs and shines a bit more than Stone, who is stuck playing the rather stoic King.
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The film’s early focus is how King and other female pros were underpaid compared to men on the tour. They balk and form their own association. Riggs — a former ranked player — is bored with life after tennis and as a stunt challenges King to a match. The early scenes also connect King with a lesbian lover and the pressure she was under to keep it a secret.
I loved mixing scenes of the real event with staged scenes of the two actors. However, the film is as up and down as a tennis match with evenly matched players. Like many biopics, it wins in some areas and loses big time in others.
Movie name: Battle of the Sexes
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Stars: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Natalie Morales, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some sex. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.