‘Battle of the Sexes’ Serves up a Clunky Script, Lifeless Pic

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Battle of the Sexes

Sexism is an ongoing issue in our society, one that has deep roots in the past and that leads to intractable resistance to any attempts at equal pay and equal rights. In the ‘70s, the push for gender equality made waves in a number of areas in American life, including the attempts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. But perhaps nothing took the topic of gender equality to the masses as the famed tennis match that pitted 55-year-old Bobby Riggs against 29-year-old Billie Jean King. On the tennis court, a national debate played out as sport and is now the subject of a feature film from the directing duo of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. Battle of the Sexes has plenty of material that might speak to the modern zeitgeist and the lingering effects of sexism in our society, but instead it plays out like a parody of itself, a movie where the message is written bold-faced type as it fails to bring its competitors on equal ground as interesting characters.

In the early ‘70s, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) was atop the women’s tennis circuit, but the inability of tennis promoter Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) to grant equal pay to the women players causes King and Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) to create their own women’s tennis tour. Meanwhile, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is trying to make the most out of his life now that he’s off the tennis court. The former champion works in an office job that leaves him cold. He still hits the tennis court as a means for money, gambling with wealthy players at a local country club though his gambling is a problem for his wife Priscilla (Elizabeth Shue). Eventually, Riggs gets the idea that a competition between himself and the ascendant Billie Jean King could net him some celebrity and some money. At first King rejects his offers. Once Riggs takes on a defeats women’s champion Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee), King and Riggs agree to a showdown in the Houston Astrodome, $100,000 to the winner of the nationally televised tennis spectacle.

Battle of the Sexes places a majority of its focus on Billie Jean King and the strong performance by Emma Stone. It also focuses quite extensively on the tennis star coming to terms with her sexuality, engaging in a lesbian affair with hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough). It’s certainly an aspect of Billie Jean King’s life that’s worth exploring in this story, especially considering just how far the gay rights movement had to go, but it really distracts the film’s focus on the competing personalities. This isn’t helped by the script Simon Beaufoy, who undercuts this forbidden romance with a countless array of clichés including a brief split which has Marilyn returning moments before the big match and the words of wisdom from the gay dressmaker Ted Tinling (Alan Cumming). The sexuality of Billie Jean King isn’t bungled any worse than every other aspect of Battle of the Sexes.

A major problem with Battle of the Sexes is its imbalance in examining these two characters. The predominant focus of the film is on Billie Jean King. Despite the fact that she’s a sports and civil rights icon and Emma Stone gives a strong, nuanced performance, she’s the less interesting of the two competitors. Bobby Riggs and his hucksterism to make this happen is much more entertaining, but the character is often pushed to the sidelines. Long stretches of the film simply forget that Carell and his bombastic take on Riggs are part of the picture and the film greatly suffers for it. There’s the question as to how much of the chauvinism that Riggs became the poster boy for was genuine and how much was a ploy to prolong is celebrity for just a little bit longer and for a few dollars more.

Battle of the Sexes is the type of movie that you wished they put as much time into the script as they did replicating the aesthetic of the ‘70s. The dialogue is so blunt with its messaging you can envision the script having “THIS IS THE MESSAGE!” written and underlined on the margins of the page. The most galling moments of sexism don’t come from the leaden dialogue but from archival footage of Howard Cosell’s casual commentary reinforcing outdated sexist tropes. Attempts at humor fall flat and the drama never materializes beyond the most surface elements.

Never at any point does Battle of the Sexes achieve a rhythm to its story. The dialogue is overwhelming with its clichés and lack of wit. The pacing to the story is always off. Stranded in this lifeless flick are two solid performances by Emma Stone and Steve Carell, but they’re given little to work off of. Battle of the Sexes is just a flat biopic that more often than not feels like a bad parody. Billie Jean King is a great American who was willing to take on the worst aspects of our society and emerge victorious. Too bad there’s not a movie capable of honoring her legacy with a distinct personality worthy of its subject.

YogaOutlet.com

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Wolfman's Got Nards
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘Wolfman’s Got Nards’

The harsh reality of the movie business is that films often...

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man’

We’ve all heard the stories in one form or another. Bill...

Invincible
Amazon Studios Greenlights Invincible from The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman

Amazon Studios greenlights Invincible, from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman,...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
LGBTQ Video Game Archives
Temple Professor Helps Launch First Exhibit of LGBTQ Video Game Archives

Temple University’s Dr. Adrienne Shaw is serving as a curator in her role...

Talking Tom Jetski2
Take a Virtual Beach Break with Talking Tom Jetski 2

Outfit7 celebrates 8 billion downloads of its mobile games with the...

PowerA Xbox One
Up Your Game with New Enhanced PowerA Xbox One Controllers

Up your game and get ready for the upcoming Xbox Exclusive...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Wrestling Writer Legends Bill Apter & Gary Morgenstein Announce, ‘The Last Wrestler’

To names that are synonymous with professional wrestling journalism and well...

thousand year beach
The Thousand Year Beach – Viz Media Debuts Acclaimed Sci-Fi Novel

“The Thousand Year Beach presents an idyllic virtual world, still running...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Solo Lightweight Backpacks
Solo Lightweight Backpacks for the Late Summer Heat

Beat the heat with the new line of Solo lightweight backpacks: Peak,...

Out Of Space on Your Xbox One? Fantom Drives Has Your Back

Fantom Drives will ensure you have enough space on your Xbox...

New Toast Covers
A Toast to New Toast Covers, Now Covering More Than Tech

Raise your glasses for a toast to New Toast Covers for the...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Showtime to Air ‘Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller’ Mauro Ranallo Doc on May 25th

From Bellator MMA and Showtime – New York – April 30,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4

CULTURAL JUNKDRAWER   SEASON’S END     THE FLASH Season 4...

Adult Continuity Issue #13 – Avengers XXX – A porn parody

I review AvengersXXX and make masturbation jokes. Be smart with your Fapdollar(tm);...

Event News Event Reviews
Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience
AT&T Audience Network Bringing Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience to SDCC

AT&T AUDIENCE Network to Bring ‘Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience’ and Show...

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018
Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 Lineup Has Big Brands and Big Names

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 lineup includes interactive fan activities, exciting...

Flavors of Youth
Netflix Premiering New Original Anime Flavors of Youth at AX2018

Netflix will host the world premiere screening of their new anime...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: