The Hollywood Reporter
Just about everything about this film is winning and gratifying.
The outcome is widely known, but the backstory proves boisterously entertaining — and incredibly well-suited to the current climate, as King was both fighting for her gender and exploring her sexuality in 1973, when the widely publicized face-off happened.
Served up with star turns from Emma Stone and Steve Carell, Battle Of The Sexes slams a crowdpleaser across the net.
The conflicts are obviously real, but there is something about the tone that’s just off through most of the picture.
The Film Stage
Although it may be lacking originality, Battle of the Sexes is finely-tuned storytelling that has been consummated by real pros.
The A.V. Club
Though told in broad strokes, its version of the story deserves credit for never buying into the hype and surreal pageantry of the Astrodome showdown. But its lack of interest in tennis as a sport leaves the narrative—plastered with hot-button issues and character crises—with an empty center.
It’s not a “bad” film, but Billie Jean King’s story could have been so much deeper. It’s a movie that doesn’t hit nearly as hard as she did.
It’s a decent tennis movie, solidly told and choreographed, but it’s in the film’s depiction of a same-sex romance between King and her hairdresser, played beautifully by Andrea Riseborough, where things truly comes alive.
This is a film that admires — even awes at — Billie Jean King, but it doesn’t share her commitment to the game. If anything, it has more in common with Riggs than it should, moving with the sluggishness of a player who underestimates their opponent.
Battle of the Sexes sacrifices some of its innate appeal by making ham out of the supposed relics of a less enlightened era.