Battle of the Sexes is a fun foray into the legendary 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The film, is an engaging retelling of the match that rides the line between a sports movie and biopic. Focusing on not just tennis but the personal lives of both players.
Steve Carell and Emma Stone provide two good performances as the tennis greats. Stone plays the role of the tennis superstar and women’s rights activist Billie Jean King as a brave, yet high-spirited person just looking for equality. Carell portrays the gambling addicted and self proclaimed “Chauvinist Pig” Bobby Riggs as an egotistical jokester just looking to have fun and gain attention from his antics. But, the chemistry of the two together is the best part of their performances. It is not overly serious and more fun and playful with a bit of a serious edge. You can tell that both of these characters do not hate each other but are just trying to win for their own competitive and political reasons. “Not overly serious” is actually a good way to describe this movie. It didn’t seem to fall into the traps and banality that some biopics make where it got too serious and dark. The film benefited from this tone and I’m happy they took this approach.
This biopic tries to really capture its 1970s aesthetic. From it’s use of the hand-drawn 20th Century Fox logo and fanfare to the meticulous amount of detail given to the the television broadcasts and the costume design, it helps immerse you in the era. I especially like the recreation of Riggs’ iconic “Sugar Daddy” outfit that he wore during his match against King. Other than Carell and Stone’s performances, the way Battle of the Sexes looks is unquestionably its strong suit.
Even though I enjoyed my time watching Battle of the Sexes, I don’t see myself watching it again. It does a good job keeping things interesting and light-hearted but doesn’t necessarily offer anything that I would want to revisit. It feels quite textbook in its approach, not necessarily taking many artistic choices. Despite that, I am happy that I saw it and I would highly recommend it for mostly everyone to see. It doesn’t matter if you are a sports fan or not; as long as you enjoy an interesting tale, you will not be disappointed.