King Richard (2021)

king richard poster 2021 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Solid biopic with good cast and visuals

Typical story path and like many biopics you know where it leads

Movie Info

Movie Name: King Richard

Studio:  Overbrook Entertainment/Star Thrower Entertainment/Warner Bros

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  September 2, 2021 (Telluride Film Festival)/November 19, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

king richard venus serena williams saniyya sidney demi singleton

Two kids having fun but can enter beast mode when they need to

Richard Williams (Will Smith) and his family live in Compton, but Williams has big dreams for his family.  Pushing education, Richard has two aces in his pocket…Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and her younger sister Serena (Demi Singleton).  Richard is raising Venus and Serena to be champions, and it is all part of his plan.  First, Richard must get them represented by someone who can get them seen, but Richard’s plans aren’t always in line with Venus and Serena’s coaches…he has a plan and intends to stick with it.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Williams is a sports biopic.  The film was released to positive reviews and premiered in theaters and on HBO Max.  The film received an Academy Award for Best Actor (Smith) with nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Aunjanue Ellis), Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Song (“Be Alive”).

king richard williams rick macci will smith jon berthal

That’s right Rick…I see gold….Oscar gold.

I played tennis and remembered seeing both Venus and Serena coming up.  It was a powerhouse to see two top level players coming from one family…regardless of their background or ethnicity.  There was such power behind their playing that it was scary.  King Williams gets a lot of that magic, but it also falls into the typical biopic aspect.

The movie feels a lot like Oscar bait but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.  It is an inspirational story (often frequently Oscar bait classification), but it is important.  You question where drive, ego, and pushing collide.  Sports people have egos, but they have to have ego to push through adversity…Richard tries to temper Venus and Serena’s ego, but also has his ego peeking through.  Sometimes it is a distraction to his daughters and other times it is an intentional distraction to keep the light off of them.  The relationship between Venus and Serena is also touched upon especially when Venus takes off first, but it is largely Richard’s story.

king richard will smith

Yeah, I gotta plan

Will Smith is good and is rightfully recognized for the movie, but this is where Oscar bait becomes tricky…there was little way he could fail.  Is it good because of Will Smith or would anyone have succeeded in the role?  Because Smith was going to be good regardless, I’m almost more impressed by his supporting cast.  Aunjanue Ellis is great as his wife who both tolerates Richard but also at points is forced to stand up to him despite her beliefs.  Both Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton are solid as Venus and Serena though Saniyya Sidney has the bigger role…both light up the screen when they get the chance to play or just be kids.  Jon Bernthal and Tony Goldwyn also are notable as Venus and Serena’s frustrated coaches.

king richard venus williams saniyya sidney arantxa sanchez vicario match

A kid about to blow the tennis world’s minds

One of the hardest things about sports (or music) movies is making the sports look real.  Venus and Serena were pretty distinctive players and if the matches don’t look tough, it wouldn’t fly.  The movie does a good job with the shooting to make the matches look urgent and to get that strength and power that both players possess.

I do think King Richard is a good film.  It has all the trappings of a film made just to grab the gold, but that honestly fits into the themes of the movie.  Richard Williams had a plan and a path for his daughters and he stuck to that path through thick and thin…and it worked (though the idea of their sheer talent and push kind of gets left in the dust).  I think that King Richard also has a path to gold and by following the formula, it very well might make it.

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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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