“Battle of the Sexes” – Movie Review

“Battle of the Sexes” attempts to serve high but, ultimately falls flat.


Official movie poster for, “Battle of the Sexes”, produced by Cloud Eight Films, Decibel Films, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and TSG Entertainment

Jarod Borem, Managing Editor

Collaborative directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) attempt to bring the true story of women’s world champion, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), and ex-champion and serial hustler, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), to the big screen in the melodramatic 2 hour snooze fest, Battle of the Sexes. 1973, while in the wake of a sexual revolution and rise in women’s rights, a tennis match billed as, “The Battle of the Sexes”, featured Billie Jean King facing off against the spiteful Bobby Riggs. The match would go on to be one of the most watched televised sports event of all time, reaching a staggering 90 million viewers worldwide. Sounds like a fascinating event for a film to revolve around, right? Well, while the true story itself is interesting, the film struggles with what it’s really about and ultimately comes off as a dull, boring, and unfocused mess. Battle of the Sexes has more in common with a “Lifetime Original Film” than it does with any other theatrically released sports drama out there.

The only real praise I can give the film are for the performances, in particular Emma Stone and Steve Carell, who are fine and certainly passable at best but, certainly not award worthy as some critics have stated. Neither Carell nor Stone have delivered bad performances before and do attempt to bring some charismatic charm and whit to the film but, with pretentious sappy dialogue and unfocused direction, there’s only so much they could do.

For two acclaimed directors to come off of one of the finest coming-of-age films to date (Little Miss Sunshine) to creating a bland and forgettable sports biopic, you have to consider, were they just a one-hit wonder? Between the lousy and cliched blocking of scenes, to the forced line deliveries, the direction simply falls flat and stale. The cinematography is eerily similar to that of a direct-to-video movie rather than a theatrically released film. It is dull, lifeless, and simply uncinematic in every way. The shot composition and lighting is repetitive and lacks any real visual appeal, it’s boring and unapologetic, as is the unfitting and obnoxious score.

Battle of the Sexes brings nothing new to cinema and is a forgettable unfocused mess rather than the interesting and compelling sports biopic it had the potential to be. However, it’s biggest failure is ultimately failing to incorporate and properly explore women’s rights, equality, and the LGBT community. Messages and themes that could have escalated the film to be something meaningful and thought provoking. Instead, we got some forgettable schlock. 2 out of 5 stars (4/10).