The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Wimbledon

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Judy Thorburn

Wimbledon

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“WIMBLEDON” SERVES UP AN ACE LOVE MATCH

The competitive world of tennis championships is the setting for Wimbledon, a romantic comedy/drama starring Kirsten Dunst (Spider Man 1 and 2) and Paul Bettany (Master sand Commander, A Beautiful Mind).   It tells the story of two very attractive tennis pros who meet at England’s prestigious Lawn Tennis Championship and score points both on and off the courts.

This is the first romantic lead for Bettany who is up to the task, with the looks, physicality, and acting skill to fit the bill.  He plays Peter Colt, a thirty something, former top ranked tennis pro ready to step away from the competitive side of the sport, and start a new career as tennis director of a posh country club where the more mature female members are anxious to see this hunky young man come aboard.

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Once seeded 11th in his field, Paul has slipped to 119, losing the edge to “younger, faster and stronger” players. Yet, before retiring, Peter’s wants a chance for one last hurrah, his 13th try at Wimbledon, if only he can gain some of the drive he has lost.  That’s where Lizzie Bradbury (Dunst) comes into the picture.  She’s an aggressive, rising American tennis star on the women’s circuit that has her eyes on the prize, and seducing the very willing older Peter, a relationship that meets with disapproval of her father (Sam Neill). When Peter falls for Lizzie, she becomes just what the less than confident player needs – the inspiration to be a winner.  But, it turns out to be the opposite for Lizzie, something dear old Dad saw coming.  Knowing this love match would be a distraction causing his daughter to lose focus on the game, he warns Peter to stay away. Will one or both players wind up fulfilling their lifelong dream of winning the singles championship at Wimbledon?  And, can love be the ultimate prize that will bring them together, when all is said and done?  What do you think?

The commendable supporting cast includes Jan Favreau as Peter’s former agent.  He shows up with a lucrative offer for commercial endorsements when he sees his client making a successful comeback. And, there are a few other subplots. One involves Peter’s estranged, arguing parents played by veteran British actors, Bernard Hill and Eleanor Bron, who share loving support of their son. Another involves Peter’s brother, Carl (James McAvoy) who takes advantage of any opportunity to capitalize on his famous brother, be it gambling, women, or the paparazzi.

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The script is lightweight with a weak conflict that doesn’t carry much of a punch, since we pretty much know what the end result will be. But, the pairing of Dunst and Bettany works. These are two very attractive and likeable stars that share some great chemistry.  The weeks of intensive tennis training paid off, and both stars are very impressive on the court in the action sequences, helped of course, by seamless CGI effects to make every serve and volley look perfect.  For added realism Mary Carillo is a TV interviewer and John MacEnroe and Chris Evert are on hand with cameos as sport commentators.  Of course, this job is not much of a stretch for these guys!

If some scenes bring up memories of other romantic comedies such as “Notting Hill” and “4 Weddings And a Funeral”, it is no coincidence.  The same filmmakers (Working Title Films) are behind this flick. There is even a “Rocky” moment that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

I see Wimbledon as more of a nice little movie of the week on the Lifetime cable channel, rather than a big screen blockbuster.  However, it is still a sweet romantic tale that’s kind of refreshing for a summer filled with movies that contain lots of bathroom humor, foul language, violence, or maybe all in one.  I’d recommend this film as a good “date flick”.  Romantic movies are usually in the guys favor. After all, it’s only in the game of tennis where “love” means not scoring a point.