“Battle of the Sexes”: Carell and Stone Heighten a Mediocre Film

battle of the sexes

“Battle of the Sexes” is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and stars Emma Stone, Steve Carell, and Andrea Riseborough.  The film is based on the true story of the tennis match that took place in 1973 against the woman’s tennis number one player, Billie Jean King, and 55-year-old ex-champion, Bobby Riggs.

This was a movie that I was quite excited to see, as I only knew the bare minimum about the event that this film is about, and Stone and Carell are two of the most charismatic actors working in Hollywood today, so I just wanted to see what these two could do when matched against each other.

The Good

The lead performances are definitely the highlight, as both Emma Stone and Steve Carell are great in this movie.  Stone is more of the lead than Carell, and I thought she got the nuances and emotional points of the character down very well and was believable as a tennis player when needed.  Still, I enjoyed the performance from Carell as Riggs a lot more, as he was always full of life and charm, even if playing more of an antagonist, and I thought that Carell lit up the screen every single time he was on it.

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris do a great job with the tone and the tennis sequences in this film, as both are made to make this movie entertaining from start to finish.  The lighthearted tone makes characters like Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs very enjoyable to watch, and the tennis matches are well shot and believable, but also quite thrilling to watch.

The character of Riggs, as a whole, felt very well-developed, even in a shorter amount of runtime than with Billy Jean King.  I knew very little about both main characters coming in, but after seeing the film I have a better understanding of the troubles and the main character traits that encapsulates Riggs as a human, and that is a lot to do with the life-filling script and the exuberant performance that Carell gives.

The Bad

While I did like Stone in the role, I felt there were a lot of places in King’s character that were underdeveloped or underutilized, and her character felt incomplete as a result.  Andrea Riseborough wasn’t a big help, as while her character is a major one, her performance is very bland and very vanilla, and it does not help in a couple of the most pivotal scenes in the movie.

The biggest issue “Battle of the Sexes” has is just how safe it really is.  There are almost no risks taken when it comes to themes or dramatic impact, and, while it makes the movie an easy watch, it also makes it feel almost mindless in some ways.  There isn’t that one scene that will stick with me or that one character element that felt all that poignant, and while there really isn’t anything bad in the film, there’s never that moment that feels tremendous by any means, which was a tad disappointing.


“Battle of the Sexes” is a well-acted, mildly entertaining film that never does anything that terribly, but also never blew me away.  Emma Stone and, especially, Steve Carell lift this film from being strictly satisfactory, and I did enjoy the moments of tennis and the occasional highlight enough to give “Sexes” a positive score, though I wish it had more to offer than playing it so brutally safe.


Get tickets and showtimes for “Battle of the Sexes” here

What did you think of “Battle of the Sexes”?  Comment below with your thoughts.

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