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Battle of the Sexes

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Emma Stone is Billie Jean King, the 1973 World Number 1 tennis player who fought for gender-equal tournament winnings. From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine and co-starring Steve Carrell. More

Emma Stone is Billie Jean King, the 1973 World Number 1 tennis player who fought for gender-equal tournament winnings. From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine and co-starring Steve Carrell.

The electrifying 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as 'The Battle of the Sexes' and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time. The match caught the zeitgeist and sparked a global conversation on gender equality, spurring on the feminist movement. Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposite sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.

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Directed by Jonathan Dayton Valerie Faris ('Ruby Sparks', 'Little Miss Sunshine')

Starring Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Alan Cumming, Sarah Silverman, Eric Christian Olsen, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell

Rated PG, Mild themes, sexual references and coarse language | 2:01 | Comedy, Sport, True Story & Biography |

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Flicks REVIEW

By Dominic-Corry

A breezy, funny film about serious subject matter, Battle of the Sexes benefits from some winning lead performances and the admirably light... Read more

A breezy, funny film about serious subject matter, Battle of the Sexes benefits from some winning lead performances and the admirably light touch of co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine).

This was always going to be about more than just the actual tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, but it's notable how late in the picture the notion even arises.

Prior to that, the film mines a lot of rousing pathos out of the King-led stand that female tennis players took in the name of equal rights in the professional game. It also lingers wistfully on the romance between the married King and her hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that occurred around the same time.

At first glance, Stone's performance appears to be embodying the film's sunlit tone, but as the film progresses, the character's steely resolve really begins to shine through, ensuring Stone's presence in the next awards round.

The film's portrait of Bobby Riggs is generous. Rendered somewhat sympathetically by the small hints of Michael Scott and Gru (Carell's characters from The Office and Despicable Me) that can be identified, he is shown to be a buffoonish but decent man who leaned into the sexist rhetoric surrounding the event simply because he enjoyed the attention doing so brought him.

Supporting players Alan Cumming, Sarah Silverman and Natalie Morales all bouy the film's entertainement value with spririted turns alongside slightly random appearances from the likes of Elisabeth Shue and Fred Armisen.

As is often the case with films about recent historical events that reflect the contemporary cultural and political discourse, some of the dialogue here can't help but feel a little too informed by hindsight, but that never detracts from the film's optimistic outlook and positive lasting impression.

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CRITICS REVIEW
TimeOut (US)

Carell's cartoonish antics are funny enough, but the two women are the tale's real champions.

Carell's cartoonish antics are funny enough, but the two women are the tale's real champions. Hide
New York Times

It was personal and it was political, which "Battle of the Sexes" gets. It was also entertainment, which is where the movie really excels.

It was personal and it was political, which "Battle of the Sexes" gets. It was also entertainment, which is where the movie really excels. Hide
Los Angeles Times

"Battle" is most involving when it deals not with sports or society but the personal struggles both players, especially King, were going through in the run-up... Read more

"Battle" is most involving when it deals not with sports or society but the personal struggles both players, especially King, were going through in the run-up to the match. Hide
The Guardian (UK)

Stone is strong in a steely, unshowy role and it's rewarding to see her outside of her comfort zone; Carell is an annoying and cartoonish presence but, well, so... Read more

Stone is strong in a steely, unshowy role and it's rewarding to see her outside of her comfort zone; Carell is an annoying and cartoonish presence but, well, so was Riggs. Hide
Hollywood Reporter

It's game, set and match for Battle of the Sexes, a massively entertaining account of the momentous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs... Read more

It's game, set and match for Battle of the Sexes, a massively entertaining account of the momentous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that also deftly deals with the numerous social issues inherent in the carnival-like contest. Hide
Variety (USA)

Frankly, it's surprising just how many facets of this story there are to explore, and "Battle of the Sexes" does so in such a way that should appeal to both... Read more

Frankly, it's surprising just how many facets of this story there are to explore, and "Battle of the Sexes" does so in such a way that should appeal to both audiences old enough to remember and those curious to know more. Hide
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

Although, at times, the portentous dialogue threatens to overwhelm the fun factor, Battle succeeds thanks to the charisma and chutzpah of its two leads.

Although, at times, the portentous dialogue threatens to overwhelm the fun factor, Battle succeeds thanks to the charisma and chutzpah of its two leads. Hide
Sydney Morning Herald

A film as concerned with the present as the past.

A film as concerned with the present as the past. Hide
The Listener NZ (Peter Calder)

An unexpected treat.

An unexpected treat. Hide
Newsroom.co.nz (Darren Bevan)

It's here to entertain and keep you focussed on the action (such as it is) and it does so with aplomb, thanks to its trio of leads.

It's here to entertain and keep you focussed on the action (such as it is) and it does so with aplomb, thanks to its trio of leads. Hide
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