Weekly Movie Review: Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes: Game. Set. Dull. 

Whether participating or simply viewing, sports can and do serve many functions in our society. For those who take part in athletic competitions, sports are a significant source of exercise. For others, it’s a great form of entertainment. Sports, if utilized properly, can also impart such life lessons as determination, resilience and fair play. Sports can often serve as an opportunity to bring about change, in which the outcome of a game or a match means something much, much more in society as a whole. One recent film highlights one of these rare instances in history.

Battle of the Sexes is the story of the 1970s tennis match between tennis legends Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. At the time of the match, 1973, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world. She’s deadly focused on her career, getting respect and achieving equality for women in the tennis world and society as a whole. On the other hand, Riggs (Steve Carell), a self-described male chauvinist, is bored, having finished his playing career; he’s seeking new activities to feed his fix for competition.

The film begins with King joining an all women’s tennis league, potentially putting her lucrative career and reputation on the line. Riggs, an attention seeker of the highest order with a debilitating gambling addiction, sees an opportunity to grab the headlines once again. He begins offering to take on the top women tennis players in the world, betting insane amounts of money on his sure victory. After initially turning down Riggs’ offer, King relents and the rest, as they say, is history.

As far as the story is concerned, it’s pretty to the point, never really deviating much from the events leading up to the match between Riggs and King. It delves into the personal lives of both Riggs and King up to a certain extent. For the most part, the writing is incredibly bland and boring, resulting in made-for-tv-movie banality.

With such an unbelievably dull and lifeless story, surely the performances will redeem the film, making it somewhat watchable. Well, you’d be entirely wrong if this was your thinking. With the exception of Carell, everyone else appears to be going through the motions, not exhibiting the least amount of personality. Stone is especially disappointing given her prior performances. This is likely her worst performance to date.

Battle of the Sexes is an incredible bore of film, serving up dullness in every aspect. Game. Set. Disappointment.  2.5 out 5.