Sunday, October 24, 2004

Wimbledon is Smashing!

I caught a matinee of Wimbledon Wednesday afternoon. Stars Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany (though Sam Neill and Bernard Hill put in appearances).

IMDB Plot Summary:
In just two summer weeks, a British tennis player who was ranked 119th in the world (Bettany), and generally considered to be on his last legs as a professional player, gets his one last chance to win both the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships on the grassy courts of Wimbledon... and the heart of the rising star "bad girl of tennis" (Dunst) as well...
Why did I go see this movie? The reasons are many and varied. It's a romantic comedy (and I generally like that class of movies). It features two popular stars (Bettany and Dunst), both of whom I enjoy watching in movies. I love tennis. Absolutely - it is my favorite sport of all. I think that sums up my motivations pretty clearly. They're enumerated so you have a better context in which to consider this review. (And in retrospect, they're not so much "many and varied" as "three.")

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Completely and utterly. Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst give very nice performances as the lead characters. While Dunst has had some experience with romantic roles (e.g. Bring It On, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2), I don't know of any comparable ones in Bettany's past work (though I could very easily be wrong). You'll notice I use the phrase "very nice" as opposed to "excellent," "amazing" or "stupendous." While they do well, there's no real spark between the two of them. It still comes across quite well and neither of them are slouches or to be faulted in their performances.

Btw, as opposed to some other romantic comedies, this one is from the man's perspective. Not unheard of but not very common.

I have to say the setting for the movie, namely Wimbledon and England, was terrific! You get plenty of English accents and colloquialisms, all of which I find to be wonderful and enthralling. Bettany's English accent is excellent! (Granted he's a native.) This aspect of the film just amused me to no end.

Similarly, one stylistic aspect stood out as interesting and well done. When Bettany is serving, you hear a voice over of the various thoughts running through his head. It's a subtle touch but it is dead-on for the sport. You get up to the baseline, get ready to serve, and random thoughts, some about the game and your performance, start floating through. A rather unique thing to portray in the movie. But it works very well and I liked it.

Wimbledon is a nice romantic comedy. If you like the genre, don't mind some English accents and can stand a movie centered on tennis, check it out. It's a nice story.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: DVD Worthy (if you're a romantic comedy fan like myself; else Cable Worthy).