“Battle of the Sexes” serves up a win

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

In 1973 29-year-old female tennis player Billie Jean King took the court against 55-year-old Bobby Riggs in what would become known as the “Battle of the Sexes” – an event that later served up an ace for gender equality and social justice.

Yet despite what would become a monumental achievement for gender equality did not register with Hollywood, as it took more than four decades for the movie industry to produce a feature film based on its events.

Finally, it is here.

“Battle of the Sexes” stars the talented duo of Emma Stone (King) and Steve Carell (Riggs), who portray equally-skilled athletes as well as intriguing personalities. King is spirted and determined, while Riggs is chauvinistic yet oddly charismatic.

Stone, who exploded onto the scene in 2016 with her Academy Award performance in “La La Land,” is once again stellar as the women’s rights pioneer Billie Jean King – stunning audiences as she is almost unrecognizable in dark hair and oversized glasses, while Carell proves once again he is far more than just one of the best comedic actors in Hollywood.

It is the foundation of a film that is appropriately directed by a male-female duo that keeps the sports biopic lighthearted while also tackling underlying important issues that remain a part of present day.

While there are scenes that remind audiences why exactly this sporting event was so crucial, it also doesn’t fall into the common trap of being too preachy. Instead, there is plenty of comedy involved, highlighting King and Riggs’ interactions before and during the match, especially Riggs elaborate attempts to hustle and promote the event.

Yes, Riggs did taunt all female athletes on numerous occasions. Both were highly invested financially in the match. Both of their over-the-top entrances onto the court are 100 percent accurate, including Riggs sporting a “Sugar Daddy” outfit and King’s Cleopatra themed litter.

Despite what some historians consider a circus, the actual King-Riggs match was a gigantic achievement. There was a common belief that a woman could not beat a man in anything, let alone the male-dominated world of athletics. There was still plenty of criticism for Title IX, which was still in its infant stages at the time of the match. King also had to hide her secret love affair with another woman.

All of it is noted and impact is felt for movie-goers of “Battle of the Sexes.” As one of the promotional taglines for the film reads: “one made a bet; the other made history.”

Rest assured, you’ll likely agree as well as appreciate this entertaining sports volley that ultimately keeps the ball on present-day parallels that still trouble us all.

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