BEING THE RICARDOS brought back many memories of a beloved, classic sitcom. I am thoroughly amazed at how easily I could suspend disbelief and imagine I was viewing Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, instead of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem.
Aaron Sorkin created a fast-paced, lightning-speed dialogue reminiscent of THE WEST WING days. He and the writers chose three specific plot lines. The first one dealt with Lucy coming before the House Un-American Committee to decide if she was a Communist. The second and third were what to do about the news of Lucy’s pregnancy, and how to save their marriage in spite of Desi’s habitual habit of being a womanizer.
The acting and timing were stellar. Nicole and Javier embodied the spirit and soul of Lucy and Desi. Whether it was Lucy’s wide-eye, incredulous looks, or Desi’s unyielding energy and rhythm as he sang, the viewer will totally believe their authenticity. J.k. Simmons (William Frawley) and Nina Arianda (Vivian Vance) were amazing as well. They all matched the physicality and facial expressions of their characters perfectly.
I personally loved the unrelentless portrayal of Lucy’s quest for perfection, especially in the dinner table scene. As a former theatre director, I always searched for the best way to ensure audience laughter on cue. I would change the smallest details just to make this happen. The film also showed how Lucy saw the scene in advance in her imagination. Most directors and artists have the ability to envision the “whole” so you can break down the tiniest details, and how it will eat away at your gut until you get it right. Kudos to BEING THE RICARDOS for showcasing the art and the business of comedy.
The interview style of the film pushed the story to its necessary conclusion. I got a kick out of seeing what the writers and producers might have been like during the series’ run. It must have been so tough to write with all the censoring of the times from the station and sponsors. This film tried to showcase many of the problems during this decade, and at certain moments, it got bogged down with too much to cover. There simply was not enough time to deal with everything going on in their lives. Hence, there were several fast-forwards throughout the Ricardo’s journey.
Lucy used to say she was the biggest asset to the Columbia Broadcasting Studio. Boy, howdy. Sixty million people tuned in each week while they were on air. I was one of those loyal fans, and it shaped how I would later create my own theatrical works. I have fond memories of sitting with my family while Lucy stomped in a grape vat in Italy or went into labor with her son, Ricky Jr. This series influenced me to such a degree, that I made sure my children saw most of the episodes on reruns years later.
Lucille Ball always said she wanted a “real” home. She might not have found it during her lifetime, but she will always have a special “home” in the hearts of all her fans even today. She and Desi were one-of-a-kind collaborators, partners, and lovers. Comedians stand on their shoulders and their creative, bold endeavors.
BEING THE RICARDOS is available to stream on AMAZON PRIME and in movie theaters.