Aaron Sorkin’s love letter to the actors behind “I Love Lucy,” and their lives outside the show.
Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” focuses on the marriage and collaboration between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, as well as the writers’ room and soundstage during the production week of “I Love Lucy.” It faces its problems involving Lucille being accused of being a communist and Desi’s alcoholism and infidelity, both of which destroyed their marriage.
The movie has the nerve to make audiences laugh and amazed at how well Sorkin is able to pull off the re-enactments and dramatization behind the scenes and what the studio audience gets to laugh at. But best of all, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are both phenomenal as Lucile and Desi, because of how they ease into these deceased legends and their iconic characters Lucy and Rickie Ricardo.
Also in the writers’ room and studio are William Frawley (JK Simmons), best known as Fred Mertz on the show, who drinks in the morning during the table reads; Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda), best known as Ethel Mertz, who goes on a diet that concerns Lucille; Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and Bob Carroll, Jr. (Jake Lacy), both best known for co-creating a vaudeville act for the two leads; and Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale), the executive producer, who deals with how the two leads wish to handle their scenes.
Parts of the movie do tend to get confusing, and I’ve never seen the “I Love Lucy” show. I don’t watch that much television shows, because there are too many movies and shows to keep up. But that didn’t stop me from being entertained and absorbed by this film.
Kidman was in the 2005 “Bewitched” movie, which wasn’t a remake of the show, but rather a movie about filming a remake to the show. Nobody liked the movie, and I disliked all the cynicism inside. But I think you’ll be happy to know that “Being the Ricardos” is miles better than that film, because of how well Kidman adapts to the Lucille Ball character. She’s fun of passion, style, and determination that proves she’s more than a period woman. This is one of her best roles to date.
Bardem is also well-picked as Desi Arnav, because of how he uses his charms and vulnerabilities to show us what led to his connection with Lucile and what lead to their divorce. He’s in two great movies this year, alone: “Dune” and now, “Being the Ricardos,” so you know he has the right agent.
You also get some terrific supporting work with the best coming from Simmons, Hale, and Arianda. Simmons provides most of the laughs when he drinks during the table reads, and acts as Fred on the show. Hale knows how to be serious as demonstrated in “Nine Days,” and he’s able to bicker with the two leads about their decisions regarding the show and their own situations. And Arianda has her moments of moods and timing, when she’s acting as Vivian or Ethel.
Even if you don’t watch much television shows, you’re still interested in how Sorkin presents the behind the scenes look at the legendary actors and their iconic characters. But mostly, Kidman and Bardem are the ones who carry “Being the Ricardos” with how tremendously well they resurrect Lucille Ball and Desi Arnav. They’re both engaging, gripping, and profoundly complex with their performances, make-up, costumes, and personalities.
This is a movie that’s sure to make you say: “Lucy, I’m Home!!!”
In Theaters This Friday
Streaming on Amazon Prime December 21
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