Wimbledon (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Wimbledon</strong> (2004)

(On Cable TV, March 2017) The secret of romantic comedies isn’t that hard to piece together. Give us likable protagonists and a competent execution, and who cares if you’re telling the oldest story in the world? Of course, it’s nice if you can set the plot in an interesting environment, add witty dialogues, showcase some directing style and depend on good actors. Fortunately, Wimbledon manages to get all of these right. From casting Paul Bettany as an aging tennis player, to Kirsten Dunst as a top contender, to setting the story over a Wimbledon tournament, to funny dialogue (including worthwhile voiceovers) and directing flourishes, Wimbledon cleverly combines underdog sports comedy with romance and the result is surprisingly good … even for those who know next to nothing about tennis. The film quickly zips by, carried by the charm of its leads and Richard Loncraine’s sure-footed direction. There are issues with the film (it’s clearly told from the male lead’s point of view, often marginalizing the agency of the female character) and a few longer moments, but generally speaking Wimbledon is a big bowl of unassuming romantic comedy, unsurprising but satisfying nonetheless. I like it quite a bit better than I expected from the plot summary and found myself more engrossed in the characters than I thought. Not bad. For more ridiculous fun, follow this film with 7 Days in Hell as an absurdist Wimbledon chaser.

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