A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.
THE GOOD STUFF:
-WILL SMITH- An absolutely towering performance. What Will Smith does here, is a big reason as to why he at one point was the biggest movie star in the entire world, and why almost 30 years into his career, his name still resonates in the way that it does. Given all that we know he can do with comedy, and how big of an action star he can be, he is not at all afraid into letting his heart and soul pour into a biopic. (Ali, Concussion, Pursuit of Happyness)
And boy is that the case here. All you need to do is YouTube a video of Richard Williams in the mid-90s and you will understand how PERFECTLY he nails this portrayal. Not only is this an oscar-worthy performance, Smith should be the FRONT-RUNNER as of this point to take home the trophy.
-AUNJANUE ELLIS- As much as Smith rightfully deserves the Lion’s share of praise for this film, they’re also needs to be a serious look over in the direction of Ellis.
She has been around forever, and it’s been in seemingly hundreds of things by now, but she’s rarely gotten a chance to show that she is an actor of GREAT power. Smith’s performance can get pretty dark and intense unexpectedly…and it can be said that there are a couple of moments in this film where Ellis matches him in every way. And in one of my favorite moments of the film, SHE COMPLETELY OUTSHINES HIM. If this role were perhaps a little bit bigger she would be getting buzz as well as him.
–SANIYYA SYDNEY AND DEMI SINGLETON– I can only imagine there’d be a TAD bit of pressure to give an on-screen portrayal of iconic sports figures on the echelon of the Williams sisters. I can only imagine there’s an EQUAL AMOUNT of pressure to do all of your scenes next to Will f****** Smith. But both Sydney and Singleton do well enough to merit their share of the kudos as well. They, like Smith and Ellis, give wonderful performances, and hopefully we see a lot more of both of them in the future.
THE BAD STUFF:
-SCREEN TIME USAGE– This movie is a solid 2 hours and 20 minutes without trailers. And given that the usual Oscar bait-y type Hollywood biopic release this time of year is around that long of a running time (or in MANY cases, a lot longer) I have no complaints about that. But the way this film USES that running time is to explain very unimportant and irrelevant aspects about Richard williams’ wife before Venus was touted as the next big thing. There are side stories about nosy neighbors calling CPS, and confrontations with local gang members that flat out don’t need to be there.
I come to think what the audience is watching this movie for is a combination of the story of Richard Williams and his daughters. This film ends in the year of 1994, a year before Serena Williams (AKA the greatest tennis player of all time) made her professional debut in 1995. Even if you’re telling the story through the prism of Richard Williams, there’s a lot of stuff to touch on in that year-long span I would think. A missed opportunity.
THE UGLY STUFF:
Not a damn thing.
With the exception of a little Michael Myers movie released at the end of last month I would say the past 30 days have been a very enjoyable run of films released. At least the ones that I’ve seen. Not a lot of ugly to speak about in that period of time.
Sports biopics tend to get schmaltzy. Most of the time the filmmakers directing, and/or producing whatever film you’re watching are so in love with the subject that by the time the credits roll they are made to be Herculean in their efforts or damn near saintly in their behaviors. KING RICHARD does not do that at all. I’m very glad it didn’t.
KING RICHARD is playing in theaters and HBO MAX now