Battle of the Sexes

In 1973, a tennis has-been named Bobby Riggs thought of a great way to become relevant again: he challenged current champion Bobbie Jean King to a game. No, not just challenged her: assured the world that he would win, because he was male, and that was enough. Bobby Riggs probably didn’t truly believe in most of the chauvinistic slogans he chanted, but he knew they’d get him attention in the era of “burning bras” and “women’s libbers”, and he was right. He was a Kardashian of his time; he knew how to work the media and how to gain attention for himself. It just so happened that the women’s movement generally, and women’s tennis particularly, needed exactly this kind of opportunity.

Battle-of-the-Sexes-posterSteve Carell does an excellent job of making the buffoon Riggs more than just a brash loud mouth; in fact, Carell was probably my favourite part of the film. And that’s maybe a little sad considering this really should have been Billie Jean King’s story to tell. And to some extent, it is. It’s just that I thought Emma Stone’s version of her was pretty beige. She’s more than just a prominent pair of glasses with a side of closeted lesbian.

But at least the film is layered and tries to establish the game within the context of its time, not just within the characters’ lives but societally as well. The film may bear the name of The Battle of the Sexes but directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris seem to know that the most interest part of the conflict happened off the court.

This film hit theatres in a very timely fashion – a reminder of how incredibly not very far we’ve come. Now that it’s available to rent, why not watch it as a drinking game, and take a shot of female empowerment every time a Grand Slam title champion is referred to as a “little lady.” On the press circuit, the real Billie Jean King reminded us that at the time, a married woman couldn’t hold a credit card in her own name. But here we are in 2018 (happy new year) and you just know this movie didn’t get made without someone getting sexually harassed. In 40 years, what will the #MeToo movie say about us?

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13 thoughts on “Battle of the Sexes

  1. The Vern

    this almost made my top list of 2017. I enjoyed this movie a lot but after Dayton and Faris made tow gems with Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks. This one fell a little short. Yet everyone was really good. I forgot who played Emma Stone’s love interest but she was hot

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  2. Wendell Ottley

    I plan on seeing this soon despite the mixed responses I’ve been seeing. I was a toddler when this took place, but I’ve heard and read all lots about it. And like most types of discrimination in this country, we’ve come a long way but have much further to go.

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  3. Jeff the Chef

    I enjoyed this movie, but I thought they tried to pack too much into it – especially about Billie Jean’s relationship with the hairdresser – an important facet of Billie Jean’s life, but the movie started to become more about that than about the tournament, especially considering how her husband was little more than a prop. Obviously, the two of them had a complex relationship. I wish they would’ve given it equal treatment. Plus, for as much screen time as they gave to Marilyn, she seemed so one-dimensional – not at all like someone who would eventually sue Billy Jean for palimony.

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