Battle of the Sexes (2017) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
134 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
Great performances by Emma Stone and Steve Carell
Harrison Tweed (Top Dawg)21 January 2018
Funny to see all those offended over a simple biographical drama crying sexism and politics. Too bad those can't simply enjoy a great film with great acting and directing. It was an interesting story told very well. 8/10 from me
17 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Not the great tennis breakthrough movie it might have been.
markgorman27 November 2017
Whilst Emma Stone puts down her marker for a possible third Oscar nomination the film as a whole left me slightly cold.  But then, when did you last see a GREAT tennis movie.  That's right.  You didn't.

But this potentially offered more because it appeared multi layered and could have been more nuanced than it is.

It tackles two themes simultaneously.  First, Billie Jean King's lesbian relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that eventually ended in controversy as she was publicly outed by her lover when they split in 1981.  Throughout King remained married to her first love Larry (played sympathetically but a little limply by Austin Stowell).  This is handled very tastefully and, for me, was the better part of the whole.

Second, and the source of the title, the movie explores sexism in the women's tennis game that led to her breaking away from the WTA and its sexist president, Jack Kramer (in an unconvincing performance by Bill Pullman), and taking on a challenge billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES with 55 year old ex tennis champion and self proclaimed Male Chauvinist, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).  

I disliked Carell's part greatly, not because he didn't perform it well but that it is written to make him out to be a complete idiot (which no doubt he was).  He becomes a character of himself quickly and I neither liked nor disliked him (I was annoyed by him though).  It all makes for a strange mix of comedy, politics, sexuality and revolt.

And the revolt was all too gentlemanly for me - despite the subject matter and the ire it must have stirred nobody really ever loses the plot and so the film lacks edge and dramatic tension.

What's more, it's 30 minutes too long and the overwrought soundtrack (Nicholas Britell - it really is a shocker) is over-pervasive and just plain annoying.

Emma Stone rarely puts a foot wrong in my view and at times you really do think BJK is on screen.  That part, and the general 70's styling of the movie, is excellent but it's ponderously directed and although the final shoot out between BJK and Riggs has an element of tension we all know the outcome and Britell's pomp and circumstance was gradually doing my nut in.

Just because you loved Little Miss Sunshine it does not follow that you will love this.
27 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Simple Feel-good Story with some Subtlety Issues
Jared_Andrews19 December 2017
A light, fluffy, sweet treat, Battle of the Sexes is assuredly a crowd-pleasing movie. But much like cotton candy-the movie offers very little to digest. Overall, the movie will win over most viewers with its familiar feel-good true story angle. If you liked 2016's Hidden Figures, chances are that this is a movie for you.

It strives for and ultimately achieves the classic feel-good movie moments. Hero activist beats chauvinist pig. Good triumphs over evil. Or something like that. There is no deeper exploration. There is no hard-hitting, brutal honesty. The examinations are superficial and dive no deeper than the surface.

Basically, movie is too simple. But sexism and the problems that it causes are complicated. In the movie, everything is spelled out in a painfully obvious way. It condescends to make sure that everyone understands. The sexist characters come out in shameless and laughably overt ways. The good person defeats the bad person and everyone cheers. It's a fairy tale ending, hooray! But none of that is realistic.

Sexist and discriminatory people in power don't publicly profess their feelings in such blunt ways. So, when the movie scenes portray characters as loud and proud sexists, I can only roll my eyes. I know the movie uses these exaggerated characters and moments to make the situation abundantly clear to the audience. I just prefer a bit of subtlety.

Instead, the movie handles the delicate, nuanced topics of sexism and repression of homosexuality with the blunt force of a lumberjack with a giant axe. Wrong professional and wrong tool. We needed a surgeon with medical instruments.

The movie still has its upside. Steve Carell and Emma Stone are charming and wonderful, which is an amazing feat considering the character that Carell plays. Bobby Riggs (Carell) flaunts his chauvinism in such a flamboyant manner that showmanship is clearly his primary focus. This is one detail that the movie gets right, thanks largely to Carell. Riggs doesn't actually believe the gross, archaic things he says about women. It's an act. He says them to attract interest in the upcoming Man vs. Woman tennis match with Billie Jean King (Stone).

The storytelling is clear, even if not always smooth. The combination of King's life-changing romance along with the battle of the sexes tennis match fit awkwardly. Though, I'm sure those two things also fit awkwardly in King's life at the time, so I accept the somewhat clumsy clash of the two storylines. Again, if you liked Hidden Figures, you will like Battle of the Sexes. It's uplifting and sends a valuable and inspiring message to young girls everywhere. On that basis, I applaud the movie. Despite its flaws, it's still a story worthy of knowing.
22 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
The looks may be fine, but the message is very deceiving
Warning: Spoilers
"Battle of the Sexes" (what the hell is up with the German title, they cannot be serious, that is really more sexist than anything or anybody in this film) is a British/American film from 2017, a very recent release, that runs for pretty much exactly 2 hours. Director are the duo from Little Miss Sunshine, the writer is an Oscar winner from Slumdog Millionaire, so quite an illustrious team. Same goes for the cast. Emma Stone is fresh off her first Oscar win while Steve Carell managed a transition from small screen to big screen in the last decade that is among the best there is. And film buffs will find many other known faces in the supporting cast too, even if you could argue that Carell is supporting too. It's too close to call for him. Shue, Armisen, Riseborough, Pullman, Silverman... and fans of Scrubs and The Good Wife will also be happy to see some stars from their shows here, even if I must say the latter, i.e. Alan Cumming is very weak sadly in here, basically a poor man's Stanley Tucci once again. And Silverman was really the worst playing a character whose in-your-face feminist approach really hurts her cause more than it helps. At least there were ideas and imagination in Stone's character, but Silverman's was really so shallow and annoying that it got unbearable to watch, even if it is probably rather the writer's fault than the actor's. The makeup/costume fit nicely there too, in a bad way that is.

Now about the film itself: We have a year that gave us surprisingly 2 tennis-themed movies while other years have 0. But here it is true again too that the men provided the far better entertainment. The Shia Labeouf film about the McEnroe/Borg rivalry was on a truly high level that gave us gritty entertaining drama that was as good as it gets. This one here is the exact opposite. The tennis parts are mediocre and it's sometimes even clearly visible that the ones we see on court are not Stone and Carell. And the feminism/sexism parts that actually are at the very center of the film feel included in a way that lacks zero subtlety and shoves the message right in our faces. The way in which Margaret Court, a real champion of the sport, is depicted is something everybody working on this project should be ashamed of. The fact that she has a family and may be more conservative than the other female players was used so shamelessly against her and there is that one scene when she sees the real reason behind King's companion and ruthlessly uses it in her favor. Oh yeah, Court only won the tournament because King was struggling in her private life discovering her homosexuality and risking her marriage. But of course, Stone's character is so likable, so worth cheering for, so headstrong. Who cares she just can't be faithful to her man or at least get a divorce before having an affair. Real charmer, isn't she? I am a bit disappointed in Emma lending her name to this project. I also think her performance was nothing special at all and it was all about the looks and similarity this character offered to the real BJK that makes it memorable perhaps. The MVP is clearly Steve Carell, giving a performance that easily could have turned ridiculously bad, but did not thanks to S.C. hitting all the right notes, especially in the second hour. This is even more admirable as the character was not written too well built up as a main antagonist and then finally turned into a miserable weirdo. So Carell somewhat saved the film. The outcome eventually can be smelled from afar already and the crying scene in the dressing room afterward felt really cringeworthy as if they were trying to give the film more dramatic relevance than they had any right to. It works well together with King having egoistically sacked a commentator before the battle begins instead of showing him how it's done too with her performance. And back to the tears: If that commentator was really the bad guy and not Carell for whom it is just one big show, then why the emotional outburst? Because of the many people watching only? Hmmm I'm not buying it. But I guess, the film is easy to appreciate for those screaming sexism at Donald Trump day in and day out and those unleashing on Weinstein these days or on quality actors like Spacey, Tambor and Louis C.K. I thought the rule is innocent until proved guilty? Yep I am talking about you guys ready to give this review a thumbs-down now for saying things the way they are.

Finally, my take on equal pay that plays a big role here. Have women play as much as men and they get the same amount I'd say. Which means yes for smaller tournaments where all is best-of-3, but nay for Grand Slams. Female marathon runners won't stop after 25 kilometers either. Or swim less at the Olympics. Or run 600 instead of 800 m. Enough said. Back to this movie, it is a major disappointment. Carell can only save so much here sadly. It's a shoddy, generic and stereotypical take on female's rights and an even worse take on the wonderful sport of tennis. Go for Borg/McEnroe all along. Or go for all these wonderful films about Tilden vs. Lenglen, Renshaw vs. Dodd, Connors vs. Navratilova or (the best) Braasch vs. the Williams Sisters as I truly hope these will be getting attention as well to move things in order again. This one we have here gets a thumbs-down from me, partially also for the incompetently rushed-in same-sex marriage statement at the very end between the two gay characters. Why not make it even more political if they cannot deliver in any other field at all. Not recommended.
34 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Emma Stone and Steve Carell carry an uplifting, but overlong sports film
hunter-friesen22 October 2017
Battle of the Sexes is a an enjoyable retelling of the famous 1973 tennis match between 29-year-old Billie Jean King and 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. It was the match that sparked the women's movement in sport and planted King's status as the greatest tennis player in the world. We witness the personal journey she went though as she fought for equal rights in sports and society.

Emma Stone portrays Billie Jean King as a shy and reserved opportunist who's looking to make the best of her current situation. She's a true trailblazer that's pushing for equal rights for women in sports. Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs could not be more opposite from King. He's a retired tennis champion who can't stop gambling, which frustrates his wife to the point of no return. He's also a male chauvinist who believes in the superiority of men and how women should stay in the kitchen. It couldn't be a better battle between polar opposite personalities and motives.

The film follows the parallel journeys King and Riggs go through to get to their famous match. King struggles to gain equal pay for women tennis players, which eventually leads to the creation of her own women's tennis league. While traveling for matches, she discovers her homosexuality with her hairdresser, Marilyn. She's torn between her new desires and the life she already has with her husband, Larry. Riggs meanwhile is stuck in a midlife crisis and feels that his life has been missing something since he retired. He's passing his time through gambling and wants to plan a major comeback in the tennis world. Eventually their paths cross and results in one of the biggest and important sporting events in history.

Clocking in at 121 minutes, the film takes its sweet time to build up King and Riggs' story. While it's interesting to see their stories unfold, it goes on for too long and drags in the middle parts just before the climactic match. The sharing of screen time is also very lopsided towards King while Riggs is treated almost like a supporting character for the first hour.

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris use their skills from Little Miss Sunshine to create a personal and emotional film. The tone of the film is pretty lighthearted and never gets too serious about the whole situation of equal rights among genders. It allows for a more feel-good sports film that is enjoyable to watch.

Shot in 70's style makes the film feel closer to a television documentary than a Hollywood production. There's a grab bag of awkward close-ups, grainy images, and off-balance shots that make the film feel more authentic and grounded in reality. The famous match is recreated with stunning detail and the biggest highlight of the film.

The acting is the saving grace of the film as Stone and Carell do an exceptional job portraying the real players. Golden Globe nominations will come for each of them and maybe even an Academy Award nomination for Stone. Sarah Silverman also shines as the rough and confident manager, Gladys. She plays well off Stone in the small amount of time she gets. Andrea Riseborough is solid as King's lover, Marilyn, who opens up King's hidden secrets and is the leading contributor to the emotional arc. Bill Pullman is the only person who doesn't pull of their role, as his sexist boss character is very one dimensional and almost cartoonish by the end.

Battle of the Sexes is a well acted and uplifting sports film that suffers from being too slow and too long. It doesn't run as smoothly as it should, but is enjoyable enough to rank among the better sports films out there, and definitely the best tennis film.
16 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Not the worst movie, but close.
jaydeninfanger11 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This was an awful movie with gross items and topics that overplayed the tennis match climax into an LGBTQ movie that if known at the time 0 people would have been watching this match in support of King. This was written mostly from King's view and simply is not accurate. This movie is about how the rich and the famous hide behind their fame and in truth showed Larry (King's wife) not divorcing his wife just for the fame and money when he found she was unfaithful. President Obama bless his heart awarded King for her being LGBTQ, and not for the actual winning of a man that was out of shape and just putting on a show.

Warning.. Don't let your kids watch this or you can say goodbye to their values.
46 out of 95 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Tennis and Sex, but without the grunting.
bob-the-movie-man19 December 2017
Here's a good test of someone's age.... ask the question "Billie-Jean?". Millennials will probably come back with "Huh?"; those in their 30's or 40's might come back with "Michael Jackson!"; those older than that will probably reply "King!".

"Battle of the Sexes" tells the true-life story of US tennis star Billie-Jean King (Emma Stone, "La La Land"). The year is 1973 and Billie-Jean is riding high as the Number 1 female tennis player. She is a feminist; she is married (to hunk Larry - no not that one - King played by Austin Stowell ("Whiplash", "Bridge of Spies")); ... and she is also attracted to women, not something she has yet acted on. That all changes when her path crosses with LA-hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough, "Birdman", "Oblivion").

But this is a side story: the main event is a bet made by aging ex-star Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"); that - even at his age - as a man he could beat the leading female tennis player of the day.

The film is gloriously retro, starting with the old-school 20th Century Fox production logo. And it contains breathtakingly sexist dialogue by writer Simon Beaufoy ("Everest", "The Full Monty"). Surely men couldn't have been so crass and outrageous in the 70's? Sorry ladies, but the answer is yes, and the film is testament to how far women's rights have come in 50 years.

This is a tour de force in acting from both Emma Stone and Steve Carell, particularly the latter: a scene where Carell tries to re-engage with his estranged wife (Elisabeth Shue, "Leaving Las Vegas") is both nuanced and heart-breaking. Stone's performance is also praiseworthy, although it feels slightly less so as it is an impersonation of a (relatively) well-known figure: this is extremely well-studied though, right down to her strutting walk around the court which I had both forgotten and was immediately again reminded of.

One of my favourite movie awards are the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) "cast" awards that celebrate ensemble performances, and here is a film that should have been nominated (it unfortunately wasn't). Andrea Riseborough; Natalie Morales (as fellow tennis player Rosie Casals); comedian Sarah Silverman ("A Million Ways to Die in the West"), almost unrecognisable as the brash publicist Gladys Heldman; Bill Pullman as LTA head Jack Kramer; the great Alan Cumming ("The Good Wife") as the team's flamboyant, gay, costume designer; Lewis Pullman as Riggs's son Larry; Jessica McNamee (magnetic eyes!) as King's Australian tennis nemesis Margaret Court. All bounce off the leads, and each other, just beautifully.

Cinematography by Linus Sandgren ("La La Land") and editing by Pamela Martin ("Little Miss Sunshine") unite to deliver one of the most sexually charged haircuts you are ever likely to see on the screen. For those put off by this aspect of the storyline, the "girl-on-girl action" is pretty tastefully done and not overly graphic: it's mostly "first-base" stuff rather than "third-base"!

Directed with panache by the co-directors of the 2006 smash "Little Miss Sunshine" - Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris - all in all it's a delight, especially for older audiences who will get a blast of nostalgia from days when sports were still played at a slightly more leisurely pace... and definitely without the grunting.

(For the graphical review please visit bob-the-movie-man.com or One Mann's Movies on Facebook. Thanks).
13 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
It Thinks It Means Well But It Really Doesn't
Trevor Pacelli5 October 2017
A man and a woman take the stage here in 1972; the first, Billie Jean King, wins a tennis championship after a blurry match opens the titles; the second, Bobby Riggs, abandons his own family to gamble, often through his own tennis rounds. Right away, the men state how women are less publicly prevalent in tennis as men, meaning they get paid less as well. Sound familiar?

Battle of the Sexes follows much truer to history than you may think —allowing the real Billie Jean to oversee the production process proves the clear effort made to create a strong 21st century female role model. In the end, a fair point comes across: we need to reconsider our gamble in life.

The screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) still has potential for another future masterpiece based on his new display of well-crafted dialogue, as his style here enables each individual to realistically talk around their lies in a clever fashion. You can sense the depth behind these conflicted words, as only whatever matters to everyone's true values gets talked about.

The cast too expresses a strong desire to communicate the message about women empowerment, as most of them put in the best they could give. Oscar winner Emma Stone (Birdman, La La Land) portrays Billie Jean King with confidence to match her preparation for the role. Steve Carell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Foxcatcher) portrays Billie Jean's ultimate rival with a considerable hardness that proves the comedian's effectiveness at drama. But I most enjoyed one of the smaller roles, Natalie Morales, who plays Billie Jean's stuck-up authoritative agent. Unfortunately, some of the male actors destroyed the perfect performance streak, particularly Austin Stowell, who plays Billie Jean's husband, and Alan Cumming, who plays a stereotypical British assistant thrown in mostly for comic relief. So sadly, not everyone in the cast and crew was truly passionate about its message of gender superiority.

In fact, almost nobody of redeemable quality supports the message's potential positive value. In essence, we don't even meet Billie Jean's husband until the midway point, which ends up feeling extremely joyless since beforehand, we see her sexual attraction toward her lesbian hairdresser come out in a moment of embracing and unzipping in a dark, steamy motel room. At this rate, why would I want to see an unfaithful wife succeed in her desire for fame and fortune?

As for Bobby, he appears to be nothing besides a depiction of the era's public mindset—an unmotivated woman hater. The balance in telling his story all throughout the feature is barely even there, as editor Pamela Martin (The Fighter, Little Miss Sunshine) leaves too long stretches of time away from Bobby's subplot. Even his climactic tennis match against the famed female star lacks any tension on his behalf, since no details are learned about what tennis means to either combatant.

The directorial appearance in particular lacks any artistic quality, from Emma Stone's fake black wig to needing to play "Where's Waldo" on the screen. What do I mean by that? Well, the two directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) unintentionally make you search harder than necessary to find the character talking. Their lack of screen control plays its greatest toll in the end, when the legendary match is viewed from far away into the audience bleachers, consequently ruining the intimacy of tennis. The cinematographer, Linus Sandgren, just won the Oscar last year for his colorful live action daydream, La La Land, but now his Steadicam work takes a massive step back into dull indie movie mode.

In the long run, the extreme preachiness may turn you off the most, since it forcefully tells you to accept its worldview on gender superiority. Similar to various feminist propaganda such as Thelma & Louise, Erin Brockovich, Frozen, Wonder Woman, and countless others, men are painted to look like the predators responsible for women's problems, which in this circumstance devalues heterosexual relationships and diminishes love to impulsive selfishness. Why do so many message films have to force such one-sided, surfacey conclusions? These events may have actually happened, yet the depiction of her affair straight up degrades straight married people. Bobby's marriage appears problematic until his wife decides to change in a submissive fashion, while Billie Jean's sole roadblock in her newfound love is her current husband? Give me a break.

Although my parents and I felt disappointed after walking out of the theater together, it led us into a rather in-depth discussion about our current treatment towards the LGBTQ community. Therefore, we as viewers ought to talk about these crucial ideas more, as listening to one another will help us realize the true blinded difference between the sexes.
42 out of 90 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Losing The Forest For The Trees
zkonedog7 October 2017
There is no doubt that the event on which "Battle of the Sexes" is based on was a monumental moment in sports and cultural history. The exhibition tennis match between Bobby Riggs & Billie Jean King was in part a circus, but also (in large part) a key moment in the taking of women athletes seriously on the national stage. While this film eventually arrives at that point, I felt like it took far too long for it to "get to the point", so to speak.

For a basic plot summary, this film tells the story of the run-up to the Battle of the Sexes match. Riggs (Steve Carell) is a male chauvinist through and through (or at least plays the role of one), while King (Emma Stone) is perhaps the premiere women's tennis player of her era. While King struggles with her confusing sexuality and Riggs falls on hard times with his own wife, this sets the wheels in motion for a match that will be more than just an exhibition, as it seemingly carries with it the weight of the Women's Liberation movement of the 1970s.

Let me be clear about one thing: This isn't a "bad" movie by any stretch. Great acting performances are given, and the final 30 minutes are fully riveting. I completely understood and appreciated the message that was being conveyed.

That being said, the entire film is predicated on the notion that the setup (e.g. the first 70-80 minutes or so) of both lead figures will lead to more dramatic payoff in the end. For me, that didn't happen (in fact, it actually had the opposite effect). I'm not sure that King's sexual leanings needed to be a focal point of the story, and in Riggs' case his relationship with his wife (played by Elisabeth Shue) should have been developed even more. Because neither of these things really get on track, at least the first half of the film felt slow and stodgy to me.

Once the match is set and the buildup/execution of it begins, though, the film really shines. I only have video footage to go on here (I was not alive for the real thing), but Stone is sometimes a dead-ringer for King on the court. Carell's antics as Riggs were also accurate from what I have read/heard.

So, while being a solid film, I cannot give "Battle of the Sexes" more than just above-average marks for the lackluster opening acts. I felt like a different lens was needed (or the execution of the chosen lens needed to be better) in order to make the movie truly riveting in the end instead of "just" somewhat inspirational. It never got to that "next level" for me (aside from the material about the actual match itself).
20 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Forced and Awkward
MalShootsFirst30 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is about how Billie Jean King cheated on her loving husband with her lesbian hairdresser.

The filmmaker apparently thinks you're supposed to overlook adultery because... I don't know, LGBTQ something?

Billie Jean's husband may be the only not flawed character, and he's apparently supposed to be... what? the bad guy?

I came to see a movie of women's empowerment and I somehow found myself almost rooting for Bobby Riggs, especially since they made a point to say his chauvinism was just for show. Given that it's an actual historical event I'm glad Billie Jean won, but I mean damn. Seriously, what was the point of making Billie Jean a cheater? The whole movie just felt awkward and forced.

I look forward to a women's empowerment movie that doesn't somehow accidentally make women the villain of the story.
29 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Battle of the Sexes may have scored some points, but it hogs it's own ball by focusing too much on Billie Jean King
RforFilm10 October 2017
In the sporting world, most women unfortunately get the short end of the deal. Women have shown that they are just as athletic and strong as any man. It all comes down to biology and that whoever posses the greater ability is going to triumph. It can be men, but women just have enough chance. Sports in no different, but that environment has been a male dominated area for a long time. From the early days of the Ancient Greek Olympic games to the modern NFL, the doors were open to all men, but women have always been led to their own segregated event, or even told not to try.

The second half of the twentieth century gave in to the rise of feminism as society further accepted the role the women would play. The workforce, science, and even politics would see their fair share of women pioneers, but when it came to sports, this was still seen as a mans game. In the 1970s, a group of women athletes tried to change things by not only starting their own tennis organization, but helped set up a match to prove their ability to equal the men. This is all done in Battle of the Sexes.

Tennis star Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) has made a big name for herself, having won the Grand Slam Championships along with the US Open and Wimbledon, and all by the age of twenty-nine. Though despite her name, she finds out that she and every other female tennis athlete were making thousands less the men, all because of their gender. She asks for an equal pay from the executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals Jack Kramer (played by Bill Pullman) but is denied. In defiance, she and several other women tennis players quit the circuit to start their own series of tournaments.

Meanwhile, former tennis star Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell) is dealing with his compulsive gambling and still seeks attention from the media. To boast his image and the sport of tennis, he pitches to Billie Jean King an exhibition match where the two would play, and "show why men are better athletes". Though aware it's a publicity stunt, Billie turns him down. In 1973, Billie is again pitched, but this time accepts for the sake of her fellow athletes. At the same time however, she is going through personal troubles as she begins an affair with her hairdresser Marilyn (played by Andrea Riseborough).

Given a lot of the controversial political trouble that the U.S. has been going through, Battle of the Sexes seems to be made at the right time. A tennis match between two different ideologies seems to summarize a lot of the thoughts and concerns people are having with the future. I'd say that overall, not all of the game was played right. What I mean is that while the movie as a whole promises a fair share, the story seems to be one sided with Billie Jean King.

Both Emma Stone and Steve Carell play their characters fine enough. I can see why Emma Stone would be attracted to this part after winning her Oscar for La La Land; it shows how much a personal issue could affect an athlete's mental game. She is interesting and you do want her to see her prevail her cause. Steve Carell may seem to going back to comedic roots that could be seen as hammy, but understand that Bobby Riggs had a large personality that would require a Steve Carrel. I just wished the movie would have given us more time to explore that part of his character.

Like the title of this movie, everything leads up to the match. The problem is that while I like the events that lead us there, the movie doesn't seem to be interested in the Bobby Riggs side. I wonder if the original script was originally a Billie Jean Kings biopic that was rewritten to be about this match and the controversies surrounding this. This leads into a movie that means well, but is structurally uneven with its tone. This will surely be a movie that will be championed for it's positive look on female athletes, but for those that want to look into the history of The Battle of the Sexes, there must be some books about it that tell the story better.

I'll give it six tennis balls out of ten. I cannot dismiss the movie completely as when it tells Billie Jean King's story, I liked it. I just wish that Bobby Riggs had gotten a fairer portrayal. I'd say if your going to see this, look into the facts and people behind the actual Battle of the Sexes first. Do all of that, and see if the balls in your court.
16 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
When Billie Beat Bobby was much better and 30 minutes shorter
newchristmasdreams17 September 2017
The only thing that this film has that the television didn't is a bigger budget and not hiding Billie's sexuality. The screenplay is mediocre and doesn't really capture the 1970's. The television film also has much better actors and better screenplay.

Both films deal with the sexism the was women had to endure more in the 1970's. However this film does show that women were getting 1/2 the money men were getting playing the same sport.

Emma Stone is fine in the role of Billie. Steve Carell has makes a caricature out of Bobby Riggs and not really show his "human side". Yes Bobby was a real life cartoon but for a film that runs 30 minutes longer than its television counterpart it could of done a better job.

If you are looking for a good film to watch KEEP LOOKING
58 out of 140 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
The match of the century
joev-551147 September 2017
There may have been some slight deviations from the real events in part ...however, Carell does a fine job of recreating the 1-man flying circus that was Bobby Riggs and Emma Stone provides a fine performance as one of the most influential Americans of the last century. The history is well worth seeing again. One can only imagine the immense pressure on King at a time when women were paid a mere pittance in professional tennis compared to men regardless of the equality of ticket sales for men's and women's matches.. King took on an iconic institution ...organized ... and prevailed. She refused to be bullied and intimidated by USLTA (now USTA) overlord, Jack Kramer and anyone else who opposed equality.

For those who were intending to see a film entirely about one of the major sporting events in the last century...one tennis match watched by 90 million worldwide viewers in the US and 36 countries ....perhaps they would have preferred to see more about the wheeling and dealing that led to the epic in the Houston Astrodome and less about her personal relationships and coming to terms with her sexuality. Nonetheless, coping with all these pressures in the time period only added to the stature of Billie Jean King. Most other humans would have collapsed under the pressure. After all, Riggs had just beaten the world's #1 woman player in May quite easily, 6-2, 6-1. But King won the high-pressure match in 3 sets. And continued the battle for equality for all Americans. in Bobby Riggs defense, it was all an act for him. He loved women and actually he and Billie became good friends following the match until his death in 1995. For whatever complaints critics may have re the direction or writing etc...the telling of the story of this battle for economic and social justice...and for new audiences to gain awareness of what occurred in the 1970s about an event that captured the nation and took it by storm....well worth it!
35 out of 80 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Great serve for entertainment and equality
benmccarthy19902 October 2017
Battle of the Sexes is an old fashioned, sensitive, crowd pleasing film that never feels outdated. The only downside is how fact & fiction portrayed in Battle of the Sexes almost feels like a documentary.

As I was watching Battle of the Sexes, a part of me felt ashamed that attitudes towards women sports, equal pay and rights haven't made giant steps since 1973.

From the opening frames, Billy Jean King (beautifully played by Emma Stone) is fighting against US Lawn Tennis Association for equal pay; men's single prize money is $12,000 and women's single prize money is $1,200. Billy is asking for equal pay but the male bosses reject her plea; they believe the men's tennis has bigger names, higher quality and draws bigger crowds – despite woman's tennis games drawing the same crowds.

Battle of the Sexes isn't about tennis but the universal fight to be freed from the shackles of outdated societal values.

Directors Valerie Faris & Johnathan Dayton and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy use the well-worn underdog, sports template to winning effect; repellent villains, training montages, back room deals and typical last-minute setbacks are knowingly included (although this did happen in real life). Despite the sport movie clichés, the filmmakers manage to find space for moments of real sensitivity; Billy Jean's self-exploration or Bobby consoling his wife, the tension is felt on both sides.

Considering how many high-profile male politicians and public figures have been rightly criticised for their attitude towards women, the film could've taken the easy step to make bobby Riggs a real chauvinistic monster. Credit to Carell and Beaufoy for not descending Riggs into a caricature; he's clown, showman and compulsive gambler who you may perversely believe that he helped Women's Tennis Association in stature.

From the 16mm film stock, the sun-dried visuals and music choices; this is a wonderfully romantic film, embracing love in every form and wearing its modern-day parable with pride. Despite BOTS relevant themes, this never feels preachy or one-note while becoming an incredibly entertaining movie.

Whether you are voting yes or no in the current plebiscite, I have no doubt anyone watching Battle of the Sexes will be air punching their way to the end and hopefully feel the need to change the world. That's what great entertainment can do; make people unaware they're embracing an disagreeable ideal without realizing it.
15 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Emma Stone and Steve Carell
qeter5 November 2017
really shine. It is a pity that Carell and Stone did not play do a movie with a more distinct script. The plot of the Battle is much too thin to take me away. Feminist fight for equal rights is always a bit obscure, if it is connected to people who are already famous and can do what they want, anyway. Make a feminist movie of e.g. a cleaning woman in the 60's and I am sure Emma Stone could make another Oscar performance.
10 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
What a letdown.
iix-3142221 December 2017
2 actors I really like not delivering. Steve Carell's recycled voice from anchorman is forced to a new height. All men are assholes or idiots. Lot's of good support actors reduced to one-liners. Don't know what happened here. I was ready for a good movie. On paper it is a good movie. It just didn't work out.
13 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Women...GOOD! Men...BAD!
Horse_Caulk5 January 2018
Best movie I've ever seen, by far!

YOU GO GIRLS!

But...oh oh oh, those nasty villainous men, and their nasty and villainous men's ways! Oh the audacity! (Overt masculinity is cancer, if you didn't know)

So, now that I've done my daily male-incited stress cleansing (followed by a few minutes of personal female-scented affirmation), we can get to the meat of the review.

This film represents a period where a large step forward, towards achieving our ultimate goals, was taken. And don't all journeys start with the first step? Step by step, year by year, we are winning the battle. I certainly would have liked to see it happen much sooner, but despite the many decades of struggle, it's finally nearly here! And what sort of future do I mean?

Let's break it down:

Men: WILL be either submissive worshipers of our soon-to-be-obvious superiority, or they will be gay (and therefore loads of fun to hang out with). Any other male stereotypes will be socially and culturally deemed as undesirable and of lower status, and will rightly be heavily discriminated against. Like the husband in this film, any future man learning of an infidelity by his wife will not only tolerate it, but after a brief adjustment period, will encourage it. ATTABOY!

Women: Can finally be free to do what they want, when they want, how they want, with whom they want, and never again face any consequences. Anything negative said towards a woman, regardless of the circumstances, shall be treated as the equivalent of someone denying the Holocaust. Not only won't it be tolerated, but our goal is to make it a punishable offense. It will be nothing less than a legitimate HATE CRIME! Additionally, all so-called Supermodels will be required, by law, to carry a minimum body weight far exceeding current "plus-size" models. (I myself, am 275 pounds, and I legitimately believe I am overwhelmingly beautiful, and WILL be adored, respected, and desired...despite the fact I've literally done nothing worthy of adoration, respect, or desire. I AM A GODDESS...by virtue of my gender!!!)

Kids: Will also be free to do as they please. With their inherent desire towards "individuality" via subversive (but still very trendy) outlets, due to how easily influenced their under-developed and childish minds are, will loudly declare themselves transgendered (if it suits them), and proudly wear their tacky green hair as an expression of solidarity! GO GENDER FLUIDITY!

Honestly, I couldn't be any more pleased with the direction things are going. Lucky for us, Topical Cultural Influence (TCI) will beat the crap out of Common Sense in a street-fight, even if (the rather elderly) Common Sense is being backed up by its equally-old buddy, Mr. Logic. Such a two-on-one brawl will still end up with those two bleeding on the sidewalk, with black eyes for a week, and possibly a broken hip. Because TCI is an MMA fighter on steroids! Plus, in the odd event that TCI needs backup, it's got buddies too. And they are tough as nails. Ignorance and conformity will gladly jump into the scrap, and viciously support and defend TCI. Those are some strong-azz friends to have, and they are on OUR SIDE, pigs!

So take notice, men! The old ways will no long be accepted. You simply cannot contain that which has been repressed in (some) people for a very long time. The pendulum has, can, and WILL swing hard the other way!

In the near future, the only time you'll hear about accusations of "inappropriate behavior" or "misconduct" from a famous person, is when it's directed at women perpetrators! Which, of course, will be largely ignored. What, did you not read about the pendulum a moment ago? Former subjugation has its benefits!

I HAS SPOKEN!

(lastly, don't forget: national "Kick a Man" day is coming up three Sundays from now. Put on some Nancy Sinatra and get busy, girls!)
7 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
The Title is Deceiving
jayannajune4 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching BJK and Bobby Riggs square off in 1973 and the hype surrounding it. I was so looking forward to this story re-telling - but it was much more about King's affair with Marilyn Bartlett than the "Battle of the Sexes." The main plot is King's lesbianism. It was such a disappointment. This is a GREAT STORY that wasn't told. A blown opportunity. It should have been titled "Billie Jean King's Lesbian Affair." Sub plot: Margaret Court's homophobia. Honestly, if I has known this I wouldn't have rented it. I wanted to see the King vs Riggs story. Riggs is a side show here. A silly Steve Carell was a bright spot in this otherwise borefest.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Women and this film win big.
jdesando2 October 2017
"You've come a long way, Baby." Virginia Slims' promo

Although it is difficult to determine just how far women's rights and social equality have progressed in the last half century, the victory of Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 tennis exhibition match was a spectacular publicity success for all movements where women fought male chauvinism on the court, in the courts, and in the home. Based on the real events, Battle of the Sexes is a successful film rendering of the battle for that equality.

Besides, it's an entertaining docudrama. Emma Stone as King certifies herself as an actress of considerable range after her Oscar for the romantic La La Land. Steve Carell as Riggs is playful and cunning just like Riggs, who underestimated King's skill and savvy.

The principals of this contest knew much more than money rode on its promotion, for chauvinists like Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) needed the lesson that women were worth the same money as male athletes. Besides, the world itself needed to change its attitude about the inferiority of women.

Acclaimed directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris faithfully and impressively recreate the '70's with such jewels as a sound track featuring Crimson and Clover and Rocket Man. The directors valiantly though sometimes abruptly cut between the two camps, frequently stressing King's emerging gay interest in hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough).

While dramatizing this facet of the LGBT movement, the filmmakers allow the sequences involving the lovers to be at times too long and obvious. Yet, as I think of how difficult it is for gay athletes even today to be up front about their sexuality, I must commend the depiction in this film.

Although freedom of choice was undoubtedly a sub theme, the game afoot was tennis, and Riggs and King were clown and queen. It was great entertainment that this docudrama gets about perfectly right. And let's thank the Williams sisters for carrying the torch into modern life with dignity.
7 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
It's Okaaaaaaaaay!
Andrew McKenley17 January 2018
Very disappointed. Several times I was tempted to turn it off however I was hoping it would turn around. This is a lesbian flick! Beware!
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
A Doll's House Re-visited, Almost
rannynm6 October 2017
The themes presented in this film are still relevant and have merit. With that said, I want to add that ever since Ibsen wrote "A Doll's House," it's very rare to get a film (or play for that matter) that is charged with the theme of gender equality and presents it in a way that truly resonates. What do I mean? In films that aim to give a message or present an issues, such as when the writer wants to say something about the relevant society, more often than not, the writer portrays those characters in simple categorizations of good and bad. That may work in a superhero film, but in a piece of realism, where character development and relationships are key elements to the storytelling, simple good and bad just won't do. That's my issue with this film. The screenplay simplifies a few integral characters too much, in favor of hoisting up its protagonist.

To get this out of the way, the performances are fantastic. Emma Stone and Steve Carell lead the cast well, and the cast doesn't have a weak link in it. In particular, a lot of credit has to be given to Steve Carell. He took a character that was underwritten and perhaps even misrepresented and makes him sympathetic and someone to root for. Andrea Riseborough also delivers a very affecting performance and really gives us some great scene work with Emma Stone.

The directing is swift, well paced and well filmed. Kudos to the cinematographer who really has a wonderful grasp on stillness to promote an essential moment and exerts great uses of soft and hard focus to portray dramatic moments and internalize character feelings. The editing also deserves a shout out for some wonderful pacing and really effectively switching between the grainy, 70s like cinematography and more clear cinematography.

Now, back to the screenplay. What made and still makes "A Doll's House" the ultimate gender-equality script is that every character can be sympathized with. We learn more about the human condition and evils of society, rather than placing blame and anger on individual groups. There are only two men that can be rooted for without hesitation and that's our protagonist's husband and father. Every other guy is completely unlikable and has no arc, and Steve Carell's character can be questioned. Carell's character, who is a vital part of this story, isn't written very well or thoroughly. It's always hard to have two protagonists in a film, especially at a reasonable and well paced time. Carell's character is both an antagonist and protagonist or, at least attempts to be so. Carell's character opposes Emma Stone's. It's a man versus women ordeal and their tennis match is the crisis and climax of the film. But, here's the issue. Carell's character is NOT the antagonist. It's society! So why is Carell's character's standing within the realm of the film so questionable? Why doesn't he get his own arc? Every major character in "A Doll's House" takes a journey. That's what makes us empathize with them and come away disliking their society, and not the products of that society. The same would work with this film. But instead, there is a co- protagonist / antagonist that is not written for people to care about or even empathize with. He gets no arc, no change. He's unaffected. He may as well have been a smaller part.

Why is this an issue? Because Emma Stone's character is a catalyst. She's the driving force and vehicle used within the film to represent the affects of an unjust era and to showcase the positive effects that a change in this society would have. Unfortunately, because Carell's character and the real antagonists (the sexists who sit atop the societal ladder) don't change, because we only see them as unlikable, this story turns into something simple and ultimately un-fulfilling. Stone's character merely wins the battle within the film and we come away knowing that and are momentarily happy. However, that soon goes away, which makes this entertaining dramedy perhaps a little forgettable. Had the writing been more substantial and caring to all its characters, and forgiving to all its characters and condemned society instead, we'd come away with a more profound understanding of where issues lie and are issued from. That's a memorable film. I suppose the cinematic world is still chasing Ibsen.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value and performances and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Reviewed by Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.
8 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
It's about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump! GET IT?!?!
CinePendejo2 October 2017
I'm getting torn between the work of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris, and ultimately their latest BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Obtaining a firm grasp of visual storytelling and great performances but a clear ailment in general writing, they always attempt to offer grounded and smart comedies that always aim to coincide with current sociopolitical issues. But as of now, it's met with mixed results; even far from perfect, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE succeed in capturing the aspiring yet hopeless American zeitgeist, but also turn out to be a funny and charming road trip comedy. But then there's RUBY SPARKS, a Charlie Kaufman wannabe film that attempts to subvert the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in male-written narratives with confused and often embarrassing results.

Now with BATTLE OF THE SEXES, they opted to recreate the Tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Briggs, but frame it in a well-intentioned but totally obvious angle. Yes folks, they made a movie about the 2016 Presidential Debate. And yes, it ends declaring that the woman will win. Anyone wants to say "too soon"?

Representing the careless liberal hubris during which the film was written, BATTLE OF THE SEXES depicts the documented marketing strategy of the famous game in which the spirited and determined Emma Stone must beat the power-hungry, chauvinistic Steve Carell in order to gain more appropriation for the women who play the sport. And considering what REALLY went down during the election, saying all that makes me even more depressed.

It's just naked choir-preaching, and yet still makes me conflicted. To be clear, I'm totally against chauvinism and believe that the message of the film does hold some merit. But at the same token, outside of preachy, it leaves the rest of the script underdeveloped. The story jumps back and forth between scenes with no rhythm, the dialogue spells everything out where it doesn't need to, the lesbian subplots with King and a hair stylist barely takes off, and Riggs family life and gambling issues never get resolved. It breezes the very compelling, character-building side stories just to prattle on about how much men are pigs and women are better. Again, a message I'm ALL FOR, just not in a way it's presented here.

Still, all that aside, I do find a lot more merit in this than RUBY SPARKS. Emma Stone is incredible as King, and while the misogynist jokes got old fast, Steve Carell still owns as Riggs. There are ways in which dialogue is restraint for clever storytelling cues that I really liked, and the setting looks nicely retro. And yes, like the directors old films, they do offer a pretty compelling climax with the actual game.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES is frustratingly biased and unfocused, but I'm compelled to like it more. It's not airtight as LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, but thankfully not as icky or off-the-rails as RUBY SPARKS. And it goes without saying that the gals going into this need some sort of pick-me-up what with the shitty year they're going through, so that's a plus. Still, I say they still deserve more.
11 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
The Most Millennial Movie
imdb-792262 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
If I could give this film an alternate title I'd call it "Gay: The Movie". It was everything a millennial would want to see: LGBTQ causes, women's rights, Jewish people, and cigarettes!

Firstly the good: this had a stellar cast - Sarah Silverman did a superb job of portraying a serious character. There are so many TV and film greats that pop up all throughout the movie.

Now the bad: this wasn't a movie about tennis. It wasn't even about women's rights. It had plenty of homosexual tension, and I mean plenty, like if you missed it the first time we'll just linger longer and longer and longer on that theme. And then throw in more of that theme. And more.

This wasn't a movie about 1973. Too many technology fails for that. And over-exaggerated everything, from clothing to opinions. Maybe this is based somehow on a historical event but it would be described as loose at best and quite a fiction at that.

This wasn't a movie about female greats - you couldn't miss the vilification of Australia's great female tennis player, or the shaming of men filmed back in the day holding, what was then, majority acceptable views.

So what was this movie about, exactly? I'm not sure - and if it wasn't for the clever cinematography and the amazing sizeable cast - I think it wouldn't have had any entertainment value at all - unless I was 17 and felt it confirmed the political views of my friends.

I'm sure setting a movie back in the past is a wonderful vehicle for promoting cigarettes - such an important theme of this movie along with the carefully placed names of big tobacco companies that are most definitely around today.

It's also a wonderful vehicle for rewriting history - and shaming anybody who was a part of that time.

But be careful, kids, movies in 40 years are going to be all about how you were the shameful person because the views you hold today won't be what is acceptable in the future!
8 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
A Film Made With Care And Heart
KJ Proulx25 September 2017
True stories are always tampered with when trying to create a feature film. Sometimes that's for the better and sometimes it's for the worse, but it's usually done in order to make a great film, rather than relying on spilling information to the audience. Battle of the Sexes is the latest upcoming film to receive this treatment, and while I'm not very familiar with the material it's based on, I found myself really enjoying these characters on-screen. Whether or not they accomplished a spot-on depiction of them, it matters if the film ends up being good or not. Upon reflection, this is about a solid as you can get with a story that's fairly specific about its messages. This is a very well made movie that will be remembered for its great performances. Here is why I would recommend Battle of the Sexes.

Billie Jean King (a world-class tennis player) is challenged by Bobby Riggs (the current champion) and after deciding this is the best move for her career, the two prepare for the match of the century. That's the simple premise of this film, but the underlying messages of feminism and whether or not women should've been giving equal rights to play in a sport that many believed they couldn't do as wells men is definitely worth putting up on the big screen. Sure, there are moments throughout this film that many my find preachy, but there really isn't another way to get the point across without coming off that way. I thought this story was presented with care and honesty.

If for nothing else, Steve Carell and especially Emma Stone should surely be remembered for their performances here. Although nothing spectacular in terms of breaking out in tears or screaming for an Oscar, their subtle nuances that they add to their characters are really what made this film work for me. Battle of the Sexes is a film that needed to be made, but it's one of those movies that relies heavily on whether or not you believe in what the actors are saying. I was sucked into this story and found myself relaxed throughout the first two acts and slowly getting on the edge of my seat by the time the film reached its climax.

As mentioned above, this is a film that builds up to a tennis match to end all tennis matches (so to speak), but it's really not about the match at all. It's really just a matter of whether or not a woman can stand up to a man in the court, regardless of the outcome. I found this aspects to be very moving and it's what made me enjoy this film as much as I did. Yes, the match itself is well done, but its really not that intense, because by the time the match begins, the point of the film has already been made.

In the end, Battle of the Sexes is a well-written screenplay that's translated quite well to the big screen. Having very, very good performances that deliver a solid message about how far we've come as a society in terms of gender equality, this is always a relevant topic. All of that being said, I feel as though this film could've been much stronger. I enjoyed this film from start to finish, but it really does just exist to get that message across. It's a good movie that could've been great if it took a few more chances. I can recommend it to everyone in order to pick up on all of the eye- opening messages, but once you've seen this film, I can't see much re-watch value. Battle of the Sexes is a solid watch with a great message, but that's about it.
12 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
Really ??
PeterS14 January 2018
Given the pretty decent reviews, my wife and I were looking forward to an easy-watching amusing rental movie. We were prepared for a certain level of PC, sermonizing and revisionism but this did not turn out the be an issue. What was, however, was the acting, direction and script. Not to mention the choice of music in some of the scenes. Steve Carell seemed to be playing .... Steve Carell. And a 1-dimensional version to boot. Emily Stone - a fine actress - was bland in the role of Billy Jean; and some of the other performances were worse. The dialog at times was banal but not bad enough to make this a truly awful and therefore high enjoyable move - cf. "The Room". My wife gave up halfway but I was determined to watch it to the end given that I had rented it from Redbox at a net cost of 27 cents after applying my coupon. However, I could not stomach anymore and had to quit just before the match. It is not often that I feel that I did not get value for money at 27 cents.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews