HE MADE A BET. SHE MADE HISTORY.
In the early 1970s, retired tennis pro Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) wants to get back into the limelight and proposes a challenge match against the number one female player, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone). The Little Miss Sunshine (2006) directors got back together with Carell for this reality-based story about the 1973 ”Battle of the Sexes” showdowns where Riggs enjoyed playing a chauvinistic clown while King took the challenge more seriously. The film captures the look, style and blatant sexism of its era in a handsome and effective way, nicely building tension during the climactic match, but also showing how homophobia risked holding King back. Very entertaining, with solid work from the two stars.
2017-U.S. 121 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, Robert Graf. Directed by Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton. Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy. Music: Nicholas Britell. Cast: Emma Stone (Billie Jean King), Steve Carell (Bobby Riggs), Andrea Riseborough (Marilyn Barnett), Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming… Elisabeth Shue, Fred Armisen, John C. McGinley.
Trivia: At one point, Brie Larson was reportedly cast as King. The story was also told in the TV movie When Billie Beat Bobby (2001).
Last word: “We quickly learned that the choreography would be the most important thing, because learning how to do a serve or backhand like Billie Jean was more of an impossible dream than a reality. This was the first time where I really thought through the physicality [of a character]… once I felt more physically able, I would be able to develop more of the interior life of her. There was a lot of bulking up, tennis lessons, learning her stance, and feeling my way into her body. She is a machine.” (Stone, Vanity Fair)