Looks like we have a reunion for Steve Carell and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the three behind my favorite movie of 2006: “Little Miss Sunshine.” That movie is the reason why I became a film critic, and for that, I thank the three.
Their new film, “Battle of the Sexes,” is an entertaining dramedy about women’s equal rights on the tennis court. This takes place in 1973, and the Battle of the Sexes had a big impact on women young and old. It was between Billie Jean King, the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, and Bobby Riggs, the chauvinistic world champ.
Emma Stone shines as Billie Jean, and Simon Beaufoy’s (“Slumdog Millionaire”) writing shows us her belief in women’s rights, as well as her lesbian affair with her hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough). She refuses to continue it for the sake of her name, the women she fights for, and her husband Larry King (Austin Stowell).
Steve Carell gives a goofy fun performance (the kind we know and love from this “Office” legend) as Bobby, who can never get over his gambling addiction, no matter how stressed it leaves his wife (Elizabeth Shue). He’s looking to shake the tennis world up, by challenging Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) to a match, and when she loses, Billie Jean is forced to take action.
With a nice supporting cast (Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Bill Pullman, and Fred Armisen), sly wit, and strong women, “Battle of the Sexes” doesn’t exceed the pure magic of “Little Miss Sunshine,” but it does shine with its 70s history on women’s rights. My mother told me this event had a big impact on her, and now, she is ambitious about the movie. I think she should be ambitious, because it’s fun, but it’s also gripping.
Thanks to the charming lead performances from Stone and Carell and the direction of both Dayton and Faris, you have a lot to look forward to.