WEEKEND WEB: Film review – Game, set and match Stone and Carell

Emma Stone as "Billie Jean King" and Steve Carell as "Bobby Riggs" in BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. � 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

BATTLE OF THE SEXES (12A) SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOWCAST: EMMA STONE, STEVE CARELL, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, SARAH SILVERMAN, BILL PULLMAN, ALAN CUMMING, ELISABETH SHUE, AUSTIN STOWELL & ERIC CHRISTIAN OLSENRUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 1 MINDIRECTORS: JONATHAN DAYTON & VALERIE FARIS

Stone and Carell have served up a real treat.

I need to stop judging a book by its cover. I had apprehensions about watching films such as Moneyball, The Blind Side and The Damned United as I had no interest in the sport they centred around – and yet, I loved them.

Do I ever learn? I had the same concerns walking into my screening of Battle of the Sexes. Sure, it’s about tennis – but so much more.

The true story is set in the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement. It mostly focuses around the build-up to a thrilling 1973 tennis match between ladies world number one Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-champ/self-confessed ‘chauvinistic pig’ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). It was billed as the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ and became the most watched televised sports event of all time – with an incredible 90 million viewers worldwide.

The match created a heavy debate on gender equality. Riggs makes it clear to the media that he can beat any woman on the court and that their only reason for being there should be to pick up the balls. Due to a handful of similar sexist comments, we – as an audience – instantly become fully supportive of King’s efforts to not only win the game, but to make the tennis authorities give women the respect they deserve. As to whether she actually wins or not, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Both King and Riggs also have their own personal battles off the court. King struggles to come to terms with her sexuality, while Riggs takes on his gambling demons. It’s certainly enough drama to keep you entertained.

Emma Stone builds on her Oscar win for La La Land, by getting the tone just right, with another great performance. Carell also impresses by unleashing the more serious side to him, which we’ve seen in films such as Foxcatcher and The Big Short.

But it’s the overall seriousness of the film that is my biggest criticism. The trailer would have us believe that Battle of the Sexes is a lot more comedy driven – much like the directors’ (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris) previous film Little Miss Sunshine – but it simply doesn’t have as many comedic moments as expected, leaving me slightly betrayed by the marketing.

Walk into the screening expecting more drama than comedy and you’ll get the most out the viewing experience – as it hits more over the net than into it.

Rating: 3.5/5 – Mikey Clarke

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