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By Megan Bianco
One year after winning “Best Actress” at the Academy Awards for the light-hearted musical La La Land, Emma Stone is back on screen with the biopic Battle of the Sexes. Reunited with her Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) co-star Steve Carell, who reunites with filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris from Little Miss Sunshine (2006), the film has been having a rather modest theater run despite the big names.
In 1973, Billie Jean King (Stone) is the most successful female tennis player in the world, while male tennis pro Bobby Riggs (Carell) is struggling with accepting retirement while also battling a gambling problem. Right when executive director Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) kicks out the women from the Association of Tennis Professionals, King and manager Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) decide to open their own association. Meanwhile, Riggs decides to challenge himself by offering a match against female players.
Elisabeth Shue and Andrea Riseborough co-star as the two leads’ love interests. Battle of the Sexes is a primarily light and fun period piece with more comic relief than serious drama. Carell and Stone are appropriately cast as their tennis characters, especially Stone who might actually be even better than she was in La La Land. The subplots, particularly on King’s and Riggs’ personal lives, could have used a little more development, but the chemistry between the actors almost makes up for it. For fans of tennis or 1970s pop culture, Battle of the Sexes is an easy viewing for a free weekend.