Now about the film itself: We have a year that gave us surprisingly 2 tennis-themed movies while other years have 0. But here it is true again too that the men provided the far better entertainment. The Shia Labeouf film about the McEnroe/Borg rivalry was on a truly high level that gave us gritty entertaining drama that was as good as it gets. This one here is the exact opposite. The tennis parts are mediocre and it's sometimes even clearly visible that the ones we see on court are not Stone and Carell. And the feminism/sexism parts that actually are at the very center of the film feel included in a way that lacks zero subtlety and shoves the message right in our faces. The way in which Margaret Court, a real champion of the sport, is depicted is something everybody working on this project should be ashamed of. The fact that she has a family and may be more conservative than the other female players was used so shamelessly against her and there is that one scene when she sees the real reason behind King's companion and ruthlessly uses it in her favor. Oh yeah, Court only won the tournament because King was struggling in her private life discovering her homosexuality and risking her marriage. But of course, Stone's character is so likable, so worth cheering for, so headstrong. Who cares she just can't be faithful to her man or at least get a divorce before having an affair. Real charmer, isn't she? I am a bit disappointed in Emma lending her name to this project. I also think her performance was nothing special at all and it was all about the looks and similarity this character offered to the real BJK that makes it memorable perhaps. The MVP is clearly Steve Carell, giving a performance that easily could have turned ridiculously bad, but did not thanks to S.C. hitting all the right notes, especially in the second hour. This is even more admirable as the character was not written too well built up as a main antagonist and then finally turned into a miserable weirdo. So Carell somewhat saved the film. The outcome eventually can be smelled from afar already and the crying scene in the dressing room afterward felt really cringeworthy as if they were trying to give the film more dramatic relevance than they had any right to. It works well together with King having egoistically sacked a commentator before the battle begins instead of showing him how it's done too with her performance. And back to the tears: If that commentator was really the bad guy and not Carell for whom it is just one big show, then why the emotional outburst? Because of the many people watching only? Hmmm I'm not buying it. But I guess, the film is easy to appreciate for those screaming sexism at Donald Trump day in and day out and those unleashing on Weinstein these days or on quality actors like Spacey, Tambor and Louis C.K. I thought the rule is innocent until proved guilty? Yep I am talking about you guys ready to give this review a thumbs-down now for saying things the way they are.
Finally, my take on equal pay that plays a big role here. Have women play as much as men and they get the same amount I'd say. Which means yes for smaller tournaments where all is best-of-3, but nay for Grand Slams. Female marathon runners won't stop after 25 kilometers either. Or swim less at the Olympics. Or run 600 instead of 800 m. Enough said. Back to this movie, it is a major disappointment. Carell can only save so much here sadly. It's a shoddy, generic and stereotypical take on female's rights and an even worse take on the wonderful sport of tennis. Go for Borg/McEnroe all along. Or go for all these wonderful films about Tilden vs. Lenglen, Renshaw vs. Dodd, Connors vs. Navratilova or (the best) Braasch vs. the Williams Sisters as I truly hope these will be getting attention as well to move things in order again. This one we have here gets a thumbs-down from me, partially also for the incompetently rushed-in same-sex marriage statement at the very end between the two gay characters. Why not make it even more political if they cannot deliver in any other field at all. Not recommended.