REVIEW: “BATTLE OF THE SEXES” (2017) FOX SEARCHLIGHT

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“Battle of the Sexes” is the true life story of the behind-the-scenes of the now-famous exhibition tennis match between Women’s tennis star Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and now has-been Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).

The film goes into some major detail here and takes us through the paces of what lead up to this now famous match, but has some serious pacing problems throughout the first half and some overly drawn out scenes tend to make it drag in places. Surprising to me was the film being billed as a “comedy”, as it’s not funny in the typical comedic sense at all except for maybe the fact that you can laugh at how things were back then. With Riggs, once a successful tennis play, now a habitual gambler-schemer of bad business deals, who is lucky enough to have married into money with wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue), they smoothly slide over the actual first ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match between Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) and Riggs, to which she then lost. In goes Billie Jean, whom at that point was leading the way in not only tennis, but fighting the good fight women’s rights and equal pay in tennis along with a great cast of supporting women’s players at the time who risked it all for equal pay.

Thankfully, things start to come together once King and Riggs agree to and start promoting the match and, which we see all the crazy fan-fare that was done at the time. By the end of all it and watching the match, even though you know the outcome, everyone in the theatre (men included) are cheering cfor Billie Jean as we watch her take control and realize what she truly accomplished, can get you a bit emotional to say the least. Stone and Carell are well-cast and do right by their characters. With Stone even going so far as to getting right the slighest things of say, getting the tennis stances of King & Riggs, something as a tennis fan, I notice. In particular, she nails King’s conflict with her own sexuality and the scenes between her and lover Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) are eye-opening especially when you think of all it entailed at the time.

So the script and direction might be a bit uneven, but it’s good enough to make all of us cheer for King by the end and maybe even have a bit of a laugh as it regals us with truly how out of touch the sexism of the early 70’s now seems to us. Sure, there might be some slight deviations from the real events however, Carell does a fine job of recreating the 1-man flying circus that was Bobby Riggs with Stone providing a fine performance as one of the most influential Americans of the last century. Also we can note that when Bobby passed, Billie Jean noted they had become good friends after all in life and she was one of the last people he spoke with.

The history of it all whether you were there or not, is well worth seeing again.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Friday, September 22, 2017 ~ Courtesy of LACMA/Film Independent
“BATTLE OF THE SEXES” is now playing at select theaters

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REVIEW OF ~ “A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST” ~ (One word: Funny!)

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If you are not a Seth MacFarlane fan..I would ask you WHY NOT?  The man is funny..”Family Guy” is funny.. “Ted” was hysterical!! And “A Million Ways to Die in the West” follows suit.  But I will warn you, if you don’t like his humour, you might not like this movie as it’s ALL him.  It’s his first ‘acting’ gig and we all know usually he is ‘animated’ or the ‘voice of’ etc etc.. But here he is the lead playing “Albert Stark” a sort of cowboy who is a sheep farmer (yes, be prepared for the bad, but funny sheep jokes/skits) and what he thinks is the love of his life, Louise “Amanda Seyfried” has just left him for Mr.Mustache as I call him, Foy “Neil Patrick Harris”.  In order to win her back he calls Foy out for a ‘duel’ even though he is basically the town oaf and can’t even shoot a gun.  Well step in Anna “Charlize Theron” to help save the day and teach him how to shoot and not exactly tell him who she is, which is the wife of the baddest gunfighter in the West, Clinch Leatherwood “Liam Neeson”  

Basically the plot is nothing to write home about as it’s 1882 in the West and of course their are a Million Ways to Die, snakes, disease, gunfights, or even the doctor can kill you..with a nail in the ear or a Bluejay!! 🙂  And they mostly speak in terms we use today, only the real ‘cowboys’ use old West lingo and there are so many innuendos to be made which make it really funny so pay attention to catch them all and the cameos!!! 

So bottom line, of course Albert and Anna fall in love while she is helping him learn to shoot as she is a crack shot ~ but of course and blah blah blah with that part of the plot. Though it completely sticks to form when he’s counting out the ‘Millions of Ways to Die in the West” in a fun scene with Edward “Giovanni Ribisi” and his ‘girlfriend’ Ruth “Sarah Silverman” ~ who is really a prostitute though they can’t have sex as they are saving themselves for marriage which in of itself makes for some funny one-liners. The movie has a some really beautiful scenic shots and few serious moments that I didn’t expect, but then it also majorly delivers some downright raunchy, gross out scenes that we’ve come to expect from Seth MacFarlane and right smack in the middle of it, one of the BEST scenes EVER will bring you back to the future.. 😀

Oh yeah..and if you’re looking for it to not offend and be perfectly PC..then again, you don’t know MacFarlane’s style because he is NEVER either of those. Seth’s acting is okay..it’s not great by any means but as we all found out one day a few years back that he is so damn cute it’s hard not to like him.  Charlize does okay in a comedic turn, as much as I love her, nothing to write home about in this performance but definitely nice to see her doing some fun stuff as you can tell she’s having a good time! Liam Neeson with his deadpan and yes, accented character is spot on. And for those that say, how can he have his Irish accent in a Western.. well..Hellloooo.. back then more people had accents as in case we forgot our history, we are a country of immigrants so it fits perfectly in.  Also, if you are quick enough to spot a very famous Scotsman in a cameo about a 1/4 of the way through, and a few other good cameos in between, and of course at the end..well..I say good job Seth. 

I realize this movie isn’t getting rave reviews because the critics love to bash his brand of comedy because it’s not the norm..I love things that are not the norm and this movie is funny..much funnier than it’s comedic predecessor “Neighbors” in my opinion. Let’s put it this way, It’s definitely worth paying to see. 

Grade: B-

#peggyatthemovies