The Battle of the Sexes (2017)
Although I did not live during the time that this film is supposed to have taken place, I knew a little bit about the battle of the sexes. OK, all I really knew was that men and women played tennis against each other in the 1970s to prove which sex was better at sports. I did not know any specifics. I knew nothing.
The movie is a true story about how the best women’s tennis player, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former men’s tennis champion, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) come to play an exhibition tennis match against each other for the battle of the sexes in 1973.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Andrea Riseborough, Bill Pullman, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Wallace Langham, Lewis Pullman (son of Bill Pullman), and James Mackay.
The movie was written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
The Battle of the Sexes was very formulaic and predictable. However, it was a true story that I was truly unfamiliar with. An exhibition tennis match suddenly becomes a fight for equal pay and equal rights. It is a feel-good film about working to right a wrong in society. The movie is an exploration in sexism and surprisingly, sexuality.
This would have been a great time to experience in American History. To witness this symbolic tennis match (even just on TV), would’ve been witnessing an important time for women’s rights.
The movie does a good job showing just how slanted peoples’ views of men and women were back in the 1970s. Even though lots of people believe that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to equals rights for all, this film is definitely a big reminder that we have come a long way.
Emma Stone and Steve Carell were superb pitted against each other (as they were together in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011). The costume design in the movie was excellent. Stone and Carell looked very much like the people they were portraying. So much so, that it was a little scary. The 1970s was recreated very artistically down to every detail.
The movie had a nice recipe of goofy humor, and serious drama. Like many sports films, it was quite predictable. It is a formula that we have seen 100 times and it doesn’t get old. We still enjoy watching the underdog. It’s a David and Goliath story. Danielle and Goliath, if you will.
I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.
If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:
The Natural (1984)
Stuck in Love (2012)
Occasionally a love story that is not a “chick flick”, but looks like one, will fall through the cracks. Stuck in Love looked like one of those stories. The movie falls through the cracks because people assume it is a “chick flick” and they dismiss it immediately. I almost did the same thing because I’m not a fan of “chick flicks.” I’m not a fan of
“chick flicks” because well, I’m not a chick.
“Chick flicks” are so prevalent in the movie world these days that they are like a cancer that has spread. They are everywhere and their whole existence is killing the industry that they thrive on.
Stuck in Love is a dysfunctional drama about a semi-popular author (Greg Kinnear) who finds himself unable to get over his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly), even after being divorced for more than 2 years. His son and daughter, who are also writers, are having their own struggles with love.
The film was written and directed by Josh Boone and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Lily Collins, Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato, Stephen King, and Patrick Schwarzenegger.
I have always enjoyed movies about writers, because I have always wanted to be a writer.
The movie is only slightly formulaic and just a little bit predictable. It is not like “chick flicks” that are completely predictable because they always follow the same formula.
The film is rated-R for language, drug use, sexual situations, and adult drama. The movie is as much a teen drama as it is an adult drama.
There is a lot of language in the film, but that has become reality. You would like to think that people don’t always talk that way, but that is how it really is. We are a society that has become de-sensitized and the absence of language in the movie would have made it less realistic and less practical.
I was a little surprised when watching this movie because I thought it was going to be more about the parents in the story, rather than the kids. When, in fact, the film was just as much about the adults as it was about the kids.
The young actors in the movie did a better job than I anticipated. However,
the presence of Kinnear and Connelly help to make Stuck in Love a quirky, heart warming drama worth watching.
Once again, my dysfunctional childhood was probably the reason why I was drawn to this movie. Maybe it is just because I can relate to the craziness that is going on in the movie and that is why I like it. Growing up as the youngest in a big family, it’s hard to avoid the drama. Maybe that is why the movie seems more real to me, because dysfunction is more honest than perfection. Madness is more entertaining than predictability.
I rate this move a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
The Way, Way Back (2013)
Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell both have the ability to be really funny and that is why I thought that The Way, Way Back could be hilarious. If both of those guys are in the same movie together than it is bound to make you laugh right?
The movie is about Duncan, a timid 14-year-old boy (Liam James) who is dragged along on a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette), her jerk of a boyfriend (Steve Carell), and her boyfriend’s daughter (Zoe Levin). In order to escape the awkwardness, Duncan ventures off on his own to a nearby water park where he befriends Owen (Sam Rockwell) the manager, and gets a summer job.
The film did not have a very promising start, and I was worried that it was not going to get any better. It was a stale dysfunctional drama until Sam Rockwell made his appearance and saved the day, and the movie. Rockwell turned the film into a “dramedy” and made it worth watching. The film literally went from awful to entertaining as if Rockwell had just flipped a switch.
Unfortunately, Carell’s character was not funny at all. Carell is usually pretty excellent when he is in a comedic role, but when his character is all drama, he is hardly likable.
The movie was a good story of how uncomfortable life can be sometimes with a divorced parent who is dating again. Maybe being a child of divorced parents myself, I related to the movie a little bit more than others might. When you are a kid who is stuck dealing with a boyfriend or girlfriend of one of your parents whom you just don’t like or get along with, it is nice to be able to escape with your friends for support. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that many times during my childhood. That is what this movie is about and that is what this movie does a good job depicting.
It’s not the funniest movie in the world and it’s not the greatest, but it is a touching story that should make you laugh.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked The Way, Way Back, then you will most likely enjoy:
The Big Wedding (2013)
I come from a very dysfunctional family, but I am sure that we all do in one way or another. So maybe that is why I am drawn to dysfunctional movies.
The Big Wedding is about a couple that must pretend to be married even though they have been divorced for a very long time. Their adopted son is getting married and the family is reuniting for the wedding, but his birth mother is unaware that his adopted parents were ever separated.
The film was directed by Justin Zackham and the noteworthy cast includes Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Surandon, Topher Grace, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Barnes, Robin Williams, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, and Ana Ayora.
The movie is inappropriate from the very first scene and delightfully dysfunctional throughout.
The film revolves more around the families of the groom and bride rather than the groom and bride themselves. That is what the movie actually has going for it because instead of being a sappy love story, it is more about the harsh reality of the lives of the family attending the wedding.
It’s very amusing to see acting legends De Niro, Keaton, Surandon, and Williams all in the same film together and all as awesome as ever.
There are tons of laughs to be had in this film. From the awkwardness of a divorced couple acting like they are married to the funny insults back and forth between siblings and the jokes that get lost in translation with the adopted kid’s foreign birth family.
The humor is raunchy and there is a lot of language.
I laughed harder than I thought I would. The Big Wedding was a pleasant surprise. It was hilarious, witty, messed up, heartfelt, and dysfunctional. It was just like family should be, or at least how my family is.
The film appears like it could be a chick flick, but don’t be fooled. It was just a pure comedy.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked The Big Wedding, then you will most likely enjoy:
Happy Birthday to Kevin Bacon! He celebrates his 55th year in this world today.
When I think of Kevin Bacon, the first thing that comes to mind is the game “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” This guy has acted alongside so many of the greats in so many excellent films that they named a game after him.
So how do you play “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” you ask? Well, great question, thanks for asking. The object of the game is to link any given actor to Kevin Bacon in 6 steps or less. The less steps the better. For example I’ll use Angelica Huston as the other actor because she shares birthdays with Kevin Bacon, except today she turns 62. Now let’s try to link Huston with Bacon in the least amount of steps. Huston was in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) with Bill Murray, that’s the first step; Murray was in Wild Things (1998) with Bacon, and that’s the second and last step. There you go. I successfully linked Angelica Huston to Kevin Bacon in 2 steps. Obviously the only thing better than 2 steps is 1 step. The only way that you could link the two actors together in 1 step is to find a movie that they were both in together. That example was pretty easy. Sometimes the game can get pretty intricate and difficult.
I used to play a variation of “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The version that I would play was to link any 2 random actors together, rather than always Kevin Bacon and 1 other.
Not everyone can play those games. You almost have to have a real movie obsession to be any good at them.
You know than an actor is pretty awesome when they name a game like that after him.
Click on the links below to read my Kevin Bacon movie reviews:
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Crazy, Stupid, Love. is one of the better “dramadies” that I have seen in a while.
Sweet-talking ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes newly, almost single Cal (Steve Carell) under his wing and tries to help him get back out into the dating scene. This sets off a dysfunctional chain reaction in both of their lives and hilarity ensues along with craziness, stupidity, and love.
The film has just the right blend of laughs and drama. It may go a little overboard in one direction or the other at times, but that just helps to capitalize on the subject matter and keep the film exciting.
Carell does better when more comedy is involved and Gosling is more of a serious actor. Both actors’ styles complemented each other very well and I think that working together enabled them each to go a little bit out of their comfort zones as to what is usually the norm for them. Gosling pulled off being funny and Carell managed to get serious. Carell has proved that serious doesn’t usually work for him (i.e. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)), but it did in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Gosling didn’t become a comedian by any means. He has always managed to be pretty witty and clever, but he added funny to the mix.
The movie also has strong female characters played by Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Marisa Tomei. Each woman was able to bring a level of wholesomeness to their roles with a touch of quirkiness. This complemented the film quite well and helped to make it a bit unpredictable.
Josh Groban proved that he should stick to singing and leave the acting to the actors.
If you are looking for a good date movie (whether you are married or not), look no further than Crazy, Stupid, Love. It is humorous and touching at the same time. It is not a “chick flick.” It is a film that both men and women will enjoy.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked Crazy, Stupid, Love., then you will probably enjoy: