King Richard

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hello film fanatics, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another Oscar nominated film. This time I watched the Will Smith movie about the world’s two most famous tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard. Fair warning there are some spoilers below.

The main reason to watch King Richard is for the Oscar worthy performance put in by Will Smith. The film tells the story of the struggles Richard Williams faced and overcame in order to get his two girls on the professional tennis circuit before they became two of the best known athletes in the world.

The film tells a story of a family and a man who go from the streets of Compton, CA to stardom and riches in the pro tennis world. In a lot of ways this film mirrors any other inspiring sports story movie. We cheer for the Williams sisters to grow into their potential and hope for the best for them. What’s unusual in this story is that the focus is not on the athletes themselves but rather on their father and first coach.

The choice to have Richard Williams as the focus makes some sense because he mapped out the lives of his kids before they were ever born. While it might be considered borderline abuse to have a comprehensive career plan for a kid before they have even touched foot on the planet there is no denying that most of Richard Williams’ plan worked. Whether that made for great lives for his daughters or not is up for interpretation in my opinion.

The story is inspiring, however, it truly glosses over some of the worst aspects of Richard Williams, in some cases leaving just a line or two in the movie to make any inferences about some of his more negative qualities.

The third act of the film really reminded me of Rocky. Just a quick warning but I am going to drop a Rocky spoiler here. In the film Rocky the whole point of the movie is not for Rocky Balboa to beat Apollo Creed. Rather, it’s to see if he can last a whole fifteen rounds with his opponent. In the last act of King Richard we see Venus Williams first pro match. No one thinks she can actually win but it remains to be seen if she can hold her own against the number one ranked player in the world. Spoiler alert if you didn’t know, she is able to hold her own but does lose the match. Even so, what she did was unexpected in tennis at the time.

Another criticism of the movie here is that while it is about both Venus and Serena the main focus other than Richard really is Venus here. This is despite the fact that the way they were raised it was almost inevitable they would be pitted against one another constantly.

Sometime I would like to see the actual story of the Williams sisters from their perspective rather than from their father’s. It does a bit of a disservice to all they have accomplished.

Another positive in this film though is the performance of Jon Bernthal as Rick Macci. He puts in an Oscar worthy performance with plenty of subtle nuance to his character.

While I don’t think this should be the favorite for best picture there are stellar performances here worth watching. Just remember as you watch that this story is not a complete story and it’s told from the somewhat biased perspective of Richard rather than the actual athletes who have done so much.

Awarding-ly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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