Game, Set, Match!
Uhh, okay I think that’s all of the tennis terms I know. Let’s move on.
Earlier this week we were treated to the first trailer for Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ Battle of the Sexes, which tells the true story of an iconic 1973 tennis match which pitted Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), the #1 female tennis player at the time, against washed-up former champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). The movie reunites Carell with directors Dayton & Faris, who he worked with on 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, as well as with Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) co-star Emma Stone.
First we meet 1970s Michael Scott, sorry I mean Billy Riggs, in a support group for gambling addicts where he quips that the people in attendance aren’t there because they’re addicted to gambling, they are there because they’re bad at gambling. Throughout the rest of the trailer it is painfully clear that Riggs is meant to be the “bad guy” as he proclaims himself a ‘chauvinist pig’, at one point hyping up the match with King by saying “I’m going to put the ‘show’ back in ‘chauvinist'”.
Next we meet, you guessed it, Billie Jean King. Despite being the focus of the real-life event and even winning the match (I would spoiler tag that but it’s been 44 years) we don’t learn much about King in the trailer, and what we do learn isn’t even from her. In a voice-over we learn that she fights for women’s rights and is the best female tennis player of all time. Except for one quip to Riggs (“Keep talking Bobby. The more nonsense you spout the worse it’s going to be when you lose”) and an almost-kiss with another woman, we don’t actually get much from her in the trailer.
Besides establishing our two main characters, the trailer also follows the theme of chauvinism in sports and society in general, setting the match up as not just King vs. Riggs but also Women vs. Men in some sort of…clash of the genders? Come back to me, I’ll think of something better to call it.
Battle of the Sexes looks like it will be one of those charming movies that you enjoy, but isn’t exactly memorable (‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that movie! It was pretty good’). Hopefully the actual movie focuses more on King than the trailer did, because her story is a fascinating one. Luckily, as we all know, King’s dominating win over Riggs ended sexism in sports and media so I’m particularly interested to see that plays out in the film.
Check out the trailer below, and let me know what you think in the comments.