Battle of the Sexes ★★½

“Battle of the Sexes” is a movie that was made by people who were convinced Hillary Clinton would be the next President of the United States (not that anyone can blame them for that). A broad and sporadically entertaining crowd-pleaser that follows tennis champions Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs as they wend their way towards the 1973 exhibition match that cemented their legacies, this isn’t a movie made by people who merely thought that Clinton was going to win, it’s a movie made by people who knew. People who knew like the rest of us knew.

Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the script before the primaries began, obviously couldn’t have predicted that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee, but good writers have a way of intuiting these things (and grappling with their implications) long before they come to pass. By the time production began in April 2016, it was practically a done deal. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Ruby Sparks”) weren’t making a film about breaking the glass ceiling, they were telling a story about sweeping up the shards and looking forward to the next fight. The last scene lingers on a shot of someone holding a “Billie Jean for President” sign, and the moment is clearly meant to be an exclamation point, not an S.O.S..

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