‘Battle Of The Sexes’ Movie Review Roundup: Accurate Sports Comedy Seems Relevant Today
Emma Stone and Steve Carell historical film Battle of the Sexes has been certified fresh by Rottentomatoes, earning an impressive 85%. Stone plays tennis great Billie Jean King while Carell plays her male rival Bobby Riggs. In 1985, Riggs challenged the #1 women’s tennis player King to a match to prove that a woman couldn’t beat a man. Of course, she bested him in three straight sets.
King, a feminist and women’s rights activist, has said the film accurately portrayed the events that took place in the 80s. “I’d say 99% of it they got right,” she told USA Today. And critics are loving the performances given by Stone and Carell. The piece is touted as a sports comedy, but it is much more than that – it’s a film about women’s rights, and is still very relevant 44 years after the actual tennis match.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES REVIEW ROUNDUP
“The directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) know how to charm viewers, render offbeat personalities relatable, make ’70s wardrobe look appropriately laughable and send audiences home happy. The script by Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) holds social statements largely in check. For a sports biographical story like this, that’s enough… The real excitement comes from watching the athletes’ families in the stands pulling for them to win. And anonymous characters like the woman who holds aloft a sign that reads “Billie Jean for President.” It’s 44 years later, but much of it is as relevant as ever.”
–Colin Covert, Star Tribune
“Stone is solid as Billie Jean King while Carell takes on the jester role with the right mix of hustler, sleazeball and bozo. In a supporting role, Sarah Silverman shines as a put-upon promoter trying to keep everyone’s spirits high; only [Andrea] Riseborough comes off flat, not offering Marilyn the emotional depth needed to give her and Billie Jean’s story the warmth and mettle it deserves. Still, for all the balls it has in the air, Battle of the Sexes does a superb job of keeping a consistent volley. Like a great tennis match, the momentum never slows and the movie remains light on its feet, never getting tripped up over itself. Slick and fun, Battle of the Sexes is an ace.”
–Adam Graham, The Detroit News
“The fact-based Battle of the Sexes is being marketed as a feel-good sports comedy, but there’s much more going on in this hugely entertaining and Oscar-worthy film. Working from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris examine the making of the King-Riggs match to comment on just how much American culture has — and hasn’t — changed in only 44 years. The film’s portrayal of a smart but controversial woman who’s forced to face off against a showboating clown may strike some viewers as eerily familiar. Stone persuasively gets inside King’s skin, and Carell somehow makes Riggs both loathsome and likable. This is mainstream filmmaking at the top of its game.”
–Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch