When is a sports movie not a sports movie? When it’s about so much more than the game. As is the case with Battle of the Sexes. Yeah, it’s about a tennis game, but even moreso it’s about feminism, and equality, and LGBTQ rights, and various other issues that are still as relevant today as they were in the 70’s.
The game in question was between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, played here by Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. Riggs decided that at 55 years old, he could beat any female tennis player in her prime because men were just so much better at the sport than women. Meanwhile, King was fighting her own battles for equality, having helped create a women’s tennis league to prove that the ladies can get just as many spectators in the seats and therefore deserved to be paid the same as the guys.
As enjoyable as this movie was, there were some parts of it that were just so frustrating. While I adore Carrell, his character was infuriating. I could not stand the attitudes he was brandishing, nor could I fathom how he’d get so much support behind him. Bill Pullman played a similarly chauvinistic character that I likewise couldn’t stand. Scenes with those two flaunting their idealogy were enraging.
Thankfully, the women were there to save the day and the movie. Billie Jean King is fascinating. On the one hand, I’m apalled that I didn’t know who she was before this movie. But on the other, learning about her has been such a joy (not just in the movie, but she’s also made some great promotional TV appearances). She is the type of role model I could certainly get behind, and I’m excited to one day show this movie to my hypothetical someday future daughter. Emma Stone absolutely captured her spirit, and dare I say that this was a much better role for her than La La Land?
All of that just added layers that raised the stakes of the game once we finally got there. This wasn’t just a sports movie where you’re rooting for the underdog because you’ve come to love them over the past two hours. You’re rooting for them because the fate of the world really does rest in their tennis rackets. And that makes for a truly special and emotional movie watching experience
Battle of the Sexes – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/