Bull Durham. Chariots of Fire. Hoosiers. Some of the most iconic movies that propelled my childhood and still give me goosebumps were sports movies. No matter if you’re looking for that classic underdog tale (Rocky) or a great laugh (Sandlot) a good sports film usually hits the spot. It must be said however, that with so many great movies to choose from, tennis is not represented, well, pretty much at all. I bet you couldn’t tell me what your favorite tennis movie is. Probably because you’ve never seen one.
There is however, one out there. The film is titled Wimbledon. I have known about this film for while but was not overly enthused about the prospect of sitting through a romantic comedy set in the most hallowed ground of tennis. I decided however, against my better judgment, to take an hour and half out of my life and watch it.
It chronicles the journey of Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) and his quest at reclaiming past glory in the form of the Wimbledon trophy. He is propelled by his budding love for up and coming American tennis star Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst). In many ways it’s a cliche ridden, formulaic, rom-com that relies on cheesiness over inspiration. I did however, find myself smirking just much as I was cringing. Here were a few highlights and a whole bunch of low-lights.
- Instant thumbs up for use of RJD2 “Ghostwriter” as the opening music. If you don’t know of this song this blog has already been worth your time.
- James McAvoy (aka Charles Xavier X-Men) plays a cycling obsessed, degenerate gambling sibling. Bernard King (aka. Theoden from Lord of the Rings) plays Peter’s cuckolded father. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones) plays Peter’s aging hitting partner. The fantasy nerd in me highly approves.
- Peter Colt walks into the wrong room and catches Kirsten Dunst showering with the door open. She casually bites her fingers as he stumbles over his words (even walks into the kitchen by accident when trying to leave. Oooops!). Classic mixup. We’ve officially entered rom-com territory.
- With the sweat pants and wife beater as practice gear, it looks like Peter is better suited for a roll as a break dancer in Step Up 5. Clean it up Peter.
- 15 minutes into the film and they’re already drinking champagne and feeding each other finger foods between matches. Well, that escalated quickly.
- We’ve got some juicy subplots now: He’s set to face his hitting partner Jaime Lannister in the 3rd round, his girl might be messing around with the young hot stud on tour, and her father, played by none other than Sam Neill (aka Dr. Allan Grant from Jurassic Park), tells him to back off. Draaaaamaaa!
- Kirsten Dunst is a bad actress.
- “The only way we can consummate this budding romance is by riding the London Eye. No way the producer just wanted an iconic shot of Big Ben. Never. Kiss me you fool.”
- More drama! Don’t step to my girl brah!
- The most unrealistic thing about this movie is that they are playing in the semi final now (I cut a bit of the fat. He made it to the semi’s. Gripping stuff.) and they still aren’t on center court.
- Kirsten Dunst is a bad tennis player.
- “Love means nothing in tennis. Zero. It only means you lose”, exclaims Dunst as she furiously whips together a fruit smoothie. Trouble in paradise! The smoothie does look good though!
- It’s the night before the Wimbledon final and this dude is boozing. I’ve never seen anyone drink so much during a tournament, let alone Wimbledon. “Wimbledon 2: Return from Rehab”.
- Lizzie is in the airport ready to shove off back to the States when all of a sudden she finds herself watching a portable TV creepily over some little boys shoulder. It’s an interview with Peter and realizes she loves him. Or is she still thinking about that smoothie?
- Bro. Not even kinda close. And other dude. Awful form. You’re better than that boys. This is the Wimbledon finals for goodness sake.
- Johnny Mac sighting! This movie would have fallen flat without some McEnroe commentary in the form of self-deprecating jokes.
- Not exactly groundstrokes that are going to win you Wimbledon. Could be a lot worse I guess.
- Long story short, they played some ridiculous points, Peter had some internal struggles, there were some camera shots of anguished fans, and Peter won. Of course it ended with Peter and Lizzy making out in the stands.
All things considered, it could have been a whole lot worse. It had some solid cameos, a few laughs, and featured a sauna scene with Peter and Jaime Lannister (You’ve got to watch the movie!). I don’t think it’s going to find it’s way into my DVD collection but at least I can say I made it through it. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to make myself a smoothie.