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Battle of the Sexes: Not an Ace

Adam Aleksic, Editor In-Chief

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I went into Battle of the Sexes (the new film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) expecting nothing less than a comical tennis match and its buildup, so I guess I was disappointed going out.

The plot was intriguing: two tennis greats, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, both former champions for their gender category, play off in a highly sought-after and over-the-top exhibition match, while both were dealing with emotional struggles off the court. The Office’s Steve Carell and La La Land’s Emma Stone were both excellent in those roles, but they weren’t given enough to work with to shine.

The main problem is that the movie tries to combine whimsy with wistfulness, but can’t really make up its mind. Carell’s Riggs could have been so much better; a dress-wearing, sheep-herding, nude-modeling, showboating sports legend would be a great thing to watch, but they mix that in with a bunch of unnecessary drama with his wife. Instead of the perfect antihero we got an occasionally funny soap star. Meanwhile, Stone’s King could have offered a good antithesis to the self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” and “sugar daddy” of Bobby Riggs. While she did have several good zingers, the effect is ruined by more unnecessary filler about relationship. All the drama really was annoying. It covered about 60% of the movie, with the other 40% grasping on to the empowering humor.

Apart from all that, though, it was a pretty good movie. Good, but not great. The camerawork was excellent; as a tennis player myself I appreciated the angles they used during the match, and off the court the picture effectively zoomed in on things like kneecaps and scissors in an artistic manner. The secondary characters were also a huge plus, with Fred Armisen as a snake-oil-esque vitamin specialist and Alan Cumming as a stereotypically gay fashion expert occasionally stealing the spotlight.

The historical parts are pretty well researched; many parts of the film looked like the old footage and Carell was a dead ringer for Bobby Riggs. It’s always fun to see movies from a different time period- here the televisions, clothes, and cars invoke nostalgia for older folks and a groovy retro vibe for youngsters.

The political undertones of the picture are also hard to miss. Much of the movie was clearly a jibe at our current president, and many of the actors starred had already spoken out against Trump, notably Sarah Silverman. The movie affirms not only women’s rights but LGBTQIA rights and very subtly hints that the “famous chauvinist” is a theme still present in politics today. It’s definitely liberal propaganda, but does it really matter?

You won’t regret the two hours and movie ticket you spent to watch Battle of the Sexes, but it isn’t a cult film, lasting memory, or box office success. You will like the movie when watching it and even chuckle a few times, but you won’t avidly anticipate the DVD release. Watch it or not, it’s your choice.

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You Can't Hide That Falcon Pride!
Battle of the Sexes: Not an Ace