These are both fascinating characters and trying to squeeze them both into one film where neither is actually the main focus simply does not work
Battle Of The Sexes tries to take a 70’s vibe, and capture it in a documentary-like style. Being incredibly reliant on stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell, there is certainly a heavy focus on making sure they are featured as much as possible, something that doesn’t always work to the film’s advantage.
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ film follows the true story of Billy Jean King (Emma Stone) female tennis world number one, as she is enticed into facing former male number one Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in a one-off tennis match. His chauvinistic attitude towards tennis and the world as a whole makes the match more than just a ball game.
For the most part, Battle Of The Sexes feels like a hazy dream as it attempts to add drama to a relatively level story. The home lives of both Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King are both explored deeply, something that takes away some of the importance and grandiose nature of the event that is set out as the film’s climax. This especially goes for Bobby Riggs as his mooted home life is interesting, but only shows how fake his outward personality was. This side of the story could easily have been left to act as a larger reveal at the end of the film.
Stone and Carell do run the show with it almost ending up as a double biopic, an idea the film could and probably should have avoided. These are both fascinating characters and trying to squeeze them both into one film where neither is actually the main focus simply does not work. At least not on the scale Dayton and Faris needed it too.
Battle Of The Sexes does offer a very good look at 70’s American society, yet it’s squashed ideas and characters aren’t given the room to grow they deserved. This certainly impacts upon Carell and particularly Stone as they try to promote their characters within the bounds of the script. Too much is attempted in almost every section of the film, and it doesn’t make for the chilled viewing the 70’s environment set it up for.