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Battle of the Sexes Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by on Jan 08, 2018
Rating: 4 Star Rating

The Emma Stone movie Battle of the Sexes is out on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital. Should you add this movie about a tennis pro and champion of women’s rights to your collection? Check out Kidzworld’s review.

By: Lynn Barker

It’s the early 1970’s in Battle of the Sexes, and the queen of women’s tennis is Billie Jean King (Emma Stone). The fight for equal rights and pay for women is really heating up and Billie is one of the major leaders of the battle. When flamboyant, older male player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), also a champion, challenges Billie to a match to prove that he, a guy, can beat any woman, Billie needs to prove he’s wrong!  

Billie and Bobby announce their matchBillie and Bobby announce their matchCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Less Pay for Women

Billie Jean King wins the 1972 U.S. Open championship and is furious when tennis promoter Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) announces a tournament offering way less pay for the women players than the men. A meeting with him reveals that he feels that women are way less exciting to watch and too emotional etc. With feisty publicist Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman) in her corner, Billie pulls out of Jack’s tournament and says she will start one of her own.

Gladys and Billie confront male tennis leadersGladys and Billie confront male tennis leadersCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Bobby’s Challenge and Marilyn

Once tennis champ Bobby Riggs has a huge gambling problem that is threatening his marriage. He talks male supremacy and does crazy stunts for money. When his friends suggest he challenge Billie Jean King to a match, he does so. She thinks he’s crazy and refuses so he plays Australian tennis star Margaret Court whom he beats. Billie and nine major female tennis stars form the WTA (Women’s Tennis Assn.) can’t get equal pay or respect so Gladys gets cigarette company Virginia Slims to sponsor an all-girl tournament. Before a photo shoot, Billie meets hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough) who flirts with her and makes some moves. Although Billie has handsome hubby Larry King (Austin Stowell), she and Marilyn start a secret affair.

Women players ready for their tournamentWomen players ready for their tournamentCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Boy Vs. Girl Match?

Bobby is thrown out by his wife when she catches him gambling, is embarrassed by all his talk against women and the silly stunts he pulls. Meanwhile, Billie’s husband Larry figures out that she and Marilyn are a couple behind his back. He still helps Billie ice her knees after a match but talks with Marilyn telling her “We are both sideshows. Don’t get between Billie and her game”. Marilyn leaves the tour and Billie decides to play Bobby to prove that women are equal if not superior at tennis.

Marilyn and Billie share a momentMarilyn and Billie share a momentCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The Battle of the Sexes

After training non-stop for the match, Billie is exhausted and confused about her personal life as well. Bobby continues with his crazy stunts and gets Billie onboard reluctantly, for some of them while taking an insane amount of vitamins and minerals. After all he is in his 50’s and Billie is 29. She has enormous pressure on her. What will it say about women if she can’t win? Larry even gets Marilyn to come back to give Billie support, secretly of course. The match is played at the Houston Astrodome and it is amazing. At first it appears that Bobby might win but Billie creams him and the place goes wild! Afterwards Billie breaks down and cries alone in the locker room. Too much pressure! 

Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in one of his publicity stuntsBobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in one of his publicity stuntsCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Current Update

We are told that Bobby and his wife stayed together for many years, Billie is still great friends with Larry and she and her life partner Ilana are joint godmothers to his kids with his second wife.

Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) with trainerBobby Riggs (Steve Carell) with trainerCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Special Extra Features

  • Raw Footage: Billie Jean’s Grand Entrance is footage shot without sound of Billie Jean’s entrance into the Astrodome for the big match against Bobby. It’s hilarious as she is carried on court looking like Cleopatra on a throne by some hunky guys dressed like ancient Egyptians.  What a hoot!
  • Reigniting the Rivalry is the Making-Of featurette and we have Emma, the other actors and filmmakers talking about the history of the famous match and how it represented the cause of Women’s Lib (liberation) and equal pay for equal work for female sports heroes. The real Billie Jean is on set and we hear about some similarities between Billie and Emma, both strong women with drive. Steve Carell also profiles Bobby Riggs, etc. Really interesting.
  • Billie Jean King: In Her Own Words features Billie telling us all about her life in 1973; fighting for recognition and respect for women athletes, deciding to play Bobby, her strategy against him and, although pay and respect for women players is much better,  she is still fighting the battle today. True equality hasn’t been established yet. This is a very cool lady!

Emma Stone, Billie Jean King and Steve CarellEmma Stone, Billie Jean King and Steve CarellCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Wrapping Up

This Blu-ray/DVD set looks and sounds great and the extras are both entertaining and informative. I could use a director’s audio commentary or some funny outtakes but what is there adds to the enjoyment of the film.

Emma on set with her two directorsEmma on set with her two directorsCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Battle of the Sexes presents some great performances and fun-to-watch tennis as well as portraying some of the 1970’s women’s lib (equal pay for equal jobs) movement with accuracy. On the lifestyle front, the world wasn’t always as liberal as it is today. Back then, LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) people had to live lives that weren’t true to who they were. Many still feel they have to do so today of course but in Billie Jean’s era, such an admission ruined careers, broke up families etc. far more often.

Billie (Emma Stone) and players put their cause on the radioBillie (Emma Stone) and players put their cause on the radioCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

It took pioneers like Billie Jean to bring attention to the lack of respect and pay for women and begin the fight for equality, especially for female athletes. You will be entertained while you take a closer look at a far more uptight time in which discrimination against women ran way more rampant. This film would make a great addition to any home video collection. We can go four stars.

The Battle of the Sexes Blu-ray Rating: 4

Battle of the Sexes Blu-ray CoverBattle of the Sexes Blu-ray CoverCourtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The Battle of the Sexes Blu-ray/DVD/Digital set is in stores now.


Have Your Say

Were you aware of how difficult it was for female athletes to get equal respect and pay as their male counterparts? Are you a tennis fan or Emma Stone or Steve Carell fan? Start the ball flying with a comment below.