Battle of the Sexes (2017)

battle of the sexes poster 2017 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Carell and Stone are good stand-ins for Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, topical

You know the ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Battle of the Sexes

Studio:   Decibel Films

Genre(s):   Sports/Drama

Release Date(s):   September 2, 2017 (Telluride Film Festival)/September 22, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

battle of the sexes bobby riggs billie jean king press conference emma stone steve carell

Who is going down? (ok, we already know)

Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) has a vision of a world where women and men are paid equally.  Butting heads with Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), King and her fellow players decide to form their own league…but being liberated women isn’t always easy.  Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is hitting a rough patch in his marriage to Priscilla Wheelan (Elisabeth Shue) and fighting his growing gambling project.  Deciding to stage an exhibition match, Bobby might force Billie Jean into a tough position, but King might be fighting her own demons.

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes is a sports biographical movie.  The film is based on the famed “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King which was held on May 13, 1973 at the Houston Astrodome.  The film was released to critical acclaim and nominated for multiple awards.

The “Battle of the Sexes” was one of those events that remained in the public eye long after it occurred.  Though it was before I was born, I remember hearing about the event and Riggs and King were still around when I was a kid.  Battle of the Sexes is a fictionalized account, but it still is compelling.

battle of the sexes bobby riggs bo peep outfit steve carell

The Joker’s Wild

The problem with the film is that most people probably already know how the “battle” ended.  The movie fictionalizes the story, plays with the timing of events, and boosts moments of drama.  What remains is a solid, interesting story that is surprisingly topical today with the recent boost in the continued battle for women’s rights.

The casting is superb.  Both Emma Stone and Steve Carell are great stand in for Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs physically, but they also bring enough acting talent to justify casting them (instead of just casting for appearance).  Bill Pullman plays the heavy on the men’s side and Sarah Silverman plays the manager backing Billie Jean King.  Andrea Riseborough is the wrench in Billie Jean’s life as Marilyn (who later sued her) with King’s husband being played by Austin Stowell.  Elisabeth Shue plays the frustrated wife of Bobby Riggs and Alan Cumming is the fashion designer for the women.  The film features appearances by Fred Armisen, Chris Parnell, and John C. McGinley.

battle of the sexes final point match astrodome

It all comes down to this!

The movie does a pretty solid job of recreating the look of the period.  It also seemed to shoot the film in a warm yellowy glow that gives it that’70s feel.  Plus, they put a lot of period music in the film which is always fun.

Battle of the Sexes might be a movie that you can anticipate what happens simply because it was a big “sporting” moment, but the road getting there and the performances by the actors helps elevate the film.  It is a fun movie about a battle going on today.  It is interesting to note that Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King (despite on screen animosity at points) did end up being friends…something to remember as the “battle” rages on.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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