Battle of the Sexes

The 456th film I have seen in theaters…

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In 1973, a media circus erupted around the question of whether men and women deserved equal pay in tennis. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs were the ones to answer the question.

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Billie Jean King and several femal tennis pros, upset with making 1/8th the pay of their female counterparts leave the league to form their own tennis association. Sensing a chance to make some money, 55 year old former champ, now tennis hustler, Bobby Riggs sets up a match to prove that women are not the equal of men. After initially declining the challenge, King decides to take on Riggs and settle the score amidst a circus-like atmosphere as she discovers her attraction to her hairdresser.

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Emma Stone continues to claim her place among the best actresses today, well deserving her status as the planet’s highest paid actress. Her transformation into Billie Jean King is fantastic.

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In a film about a famous incident of a woman defeating a man, Steve Carell’s transformation might be the best performance in the film. Watching tapes of Bobby Riggs, Carell was dead on with his take. The guy was almost fated to play Riggs.

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Andrea Riseborough plays Marilyn, the hairdresser that forms a relationship with King and causes her to realize she is a lesbian. She was okay. There was honestly not a lot of drama for her to play other than “supportive girlfriend”.

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Sarah Silverman steals scenes with her comedic abilities as  Gladys, organizer of the women’s league.

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Turning in a really great performance was Bill Pullman as Jack Kramer, former Tennis Pro and official. He plays a great chauvinist asshole.

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Alan Cummings should be in every movie. He has never given a bad performance. Well, maybe he has, but I’ve not seen it. His supporting role as Ted Tinling, dress designer was fantastic. By the end of the film he has become something of the Jimminy Cricket character in this, guiding King through her personal issues.

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Elizabeth Shue is Riggs’ wife, who dumps him and then takes him back. Her break up scene with Bobby was particularly good.

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Rounding out the main cast is Austin Stowell as Larry King (not that one), Billie’s husband. He definitely has some awkward scenes as he discovers that his wife has taken a female lover.

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This was a well made film, excellently acted, written, and edited. In the end, it was a good film, and that is enough. It is a feel good movie that dramatizes an interesting moment in recent history. It is also a film that plays well into the emphasis on feminism and LGBTQ  issues we see in today’s society. It was also a hell of a lot of fun thanks to Carell. 7/10

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