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King Richard - Movie Review

King Richard

Achieving the impossible is easy. All one needs is a clear vision, a lofty dream, and a brazen plan to make it come true, right?

At least that’s what Richard Williams would have us believe. After all, Williams – father of tennis greats Venus and Serena – had a vision in the late ‘70s that two of his yet unborn daughters would become world class tennis athletes. He had also written a 78-page coaching/life plan on how he would make it all come true. But the craziest thing of all was that it worked, as depicted in the new biopic called King Richard, a well-acted, astutely-written story about achieving the American Dream.

"It may sound like a huge risk to center the story about two of the greatest female athletes in the world on their father, but that’s largely why it works."


 

However, more than King Richard is about the Williams sisters’ rise to the top of the tennis world, it is a story about importance of family and the dynamics of family members working together to manifest a shared dream.

The story picks up as Richard (Will Smith) works the night shift as a security guard, while nurse mother Oracene “Brandy” Williams (Aunjanue Ellis, If Beale Street Could Talk) works two jobs to keep food on the table for their family of seven. We don’t get into the career of the Williams sisters as the film is over way before then, but rather pick up early on in gang-ridden Compton, California as mom and dad stress school work and household chores before hitting the dilapidated tennis courts with their two youngest daughters. The entire family is by their side, picking up balls and hanging signs until the lights go out. It is a true family affair, orchestrated by the unusual antics of an unconventional dad.

It may sound like a huge risk to center the story about two of the greatest female athletes in the world on their father, but that’s largely why it works. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, King Richard does nothing to break the mold of the traditional sports biography. In fact, it is a fairly-straightforward, broad-scoped crowd pleaser sure to score big with wide audiences. However, its ace in the hole is the performance from Smith as the hard-driven Richard Williams. Smith delivers one of his best, and don’t be surprised if his name shows up on the short list at this year’s Oscars. He is that good here.King Richard

Not to be outdone by Smith is Ellis as Richard’s wife Brandy as well as Saniyya Sidney as Venus, and Demi Singleton as younger sister Serena. They lock in on their characters and Ellis is particularly strong and resolute while holding down the emotional center of the film. Jon Bernthal is also memorable with his energetic turn as tennis coach Rick Macci, to whom Richard reluctantly turns over the tutelage of his two young prodigies when the family moves to Florida.

There is hardly an aspect of the film that doesn’t work. In addition to the extraordinary performances from all, there’s the whip smart script that has plenty of unflattering things to say about the tennis world, all the while, heralding the adventures of an unorthodox father who chooses to do things his own way.

King Richard may be a sports film through and through, but, more importantly, it is the resonant story about a man’s family and the love he has for his daughters. If we are to believe what the film is preaching, Richard isn’t as concerned with fame and riches for himself or his daughters as much as he is for providing them a path for getting ahead in life. How’s that for a giant feel-good story as we head into the holiday season. King Richard is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.

5/5 stars

Film Details

King Richard

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, strong language, a sexual reference and brief drug references.
Runtime:
144 mins
Director
: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Writer:
Zach Baylin
Cast:
Will Smith; Aunjanue Ellis; Jon Bernthal
Genre
: Drama | Biopic
Tagline:
Based on the true story that will inspire the world.
Memorable Movie Quote: "No, brother, I got the next two Michael Jordans."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: https://www.kingrichardfilm.com/
Release Date:
November 19, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.

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King Richard

 

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