It’s 1953 and I love Lucy It is the largest television show, with at least 60 million tuned-ups every week. Comedy dream team Lucille Ball and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz created television gold. But not everything is easy for the titans of the middle. Aaron Sorkin Being Ricardos The curtain peels again during one awkward week behind the scenes I love Lucy. Paul and Arnaz’s personal problems and reported infidelities conflict with their business dealings. The threat of Red Scare and the McCarthy-led blacklist is very real. Walter Winchell announced to the world that everyone’s favorite red-haired housewife was a communist.
Aaron Sorkin’s problem is that he can’t help himself. His fast-paced dialogue about his trademark, penchant for long monologues, and spiraling approach to the most dramatic topics is often exciting to watch as it unfolds. There’s a reason that “Walking and Talking” play West Wing He proved to be very exciting for a generation in the audience. It is a wonderful fantasy to imagine a world where supportive acumen is so common and intellectual thought is prioritized over pranks and buzzwords. Of course, this is the magical concept that Sorkin often finds himself mired in. This single rat style often comes down to the self-importance of shaking a finger. It is not enough that his characters seem important. He should knock on the house at every possible opportunity that his work is intelligent and requires respect. He writes dialogue not to persuade but to win, and that can be boring at the best of times. Chicago trial 7 He plunged into this approach and turned some of the era’s most vibrant and attractive voices into idle talking points. So, you can imagine one would be apprehensive about seeing this ram-beaten approach applied to the big lady of TV, especially considering Sorkin’s recent attempt to portray the behind-the-scenes TV comedy-drama. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
The film begins with a bit of irony, with the actors playing the inner circle of the Arnaz duo and providing a reminder to the audience of why. I love Lucy This was a big deal. Sorkin feeling the need to get down to lecture mode in the first minute is not a good sign of what to follow. Every time they pop up to provide a backstory, I wondered if it was easier to cut out the medium and put up a banner asking viewers to go back to the desired Wikipedia page. This plot device isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but these talking heads don’t add much substance to a story that hints at heavier ideas outside of its glossy surface. When the opportunity arises, for example, to expand Paul’s actual politics, the film falters. Suffice it to know that Paul was not a true communist, thank you very much.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately backing off tweets angry that Nicole Kidman is playing Lucille Ball instead of Debra Messing on a bad check. Plenty of shaft inches are devoted to not accurately addressing the topic of Kidman’s appearance as it relates to the ball’s uniquely fluid expression. Personally, I don’t care if the actor looks exactly like the real person he’s playing and I think this focus on waxing history is detrimental to art. I still understand the concern, especially since Kidman doesn’t often look like she’s trying to imitate the ball. However, there is much to be commended about the performance. Kidman’s penchant for dry humor takes a few moments to shine through and she can deliver pungent quenching with fantastic ease. She has a pop of chemistry with the appropriately sly Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, but it works best when they’re hostile rather than sexual (also someone really needs to sit Sorkin and explain to him why it’s a problem to pick a Hispanic actor as one of the most famous Cubans in American pop culture.)
Obviously, Sorkin feels more comfortable in scenes where Ball and Arnaz are the heads of a business empire than in the real people who live outside the studio. The sharpest moments come when Ball and Arnaz dissect each line of the upcoming episode’s scenario, questioning jokes without explanation beyond “just because” and invoking moments that don’t make sense to the characters they play. It leaves plenty of room for a zinger, as Kidman is having a great time, but Sorkin’s iteration quickly wears off. It’s kind of weird in a story about legendary comic writers, where people have to keep explaining when they joke around. When forced to include all iconic recreations I love Lucy The viewer, the energy dissipates. Sorkin, Kidman, and Bardem alike suddenly become very polite, also unbalanced by the unique chemistry of the slapstick genius. It’s like a RuPaul’s Drag Race Acting challenge sometimes. At one point, Paul regrets that the Week’s director does not understand physical comedy, which she felt was more self-aware than one would normally expect for Sorkin.
While the focus has been primarily on selecting leads, Sorkin is, for once, actually making great choices with supportive players (mistake is another thing he made). Chicago trial 7 Such is inappropriate for the narrative he wanted to breathe life into.) The always underappreciated Nina Arianda is a total blast like Vivian Vance. She bounced back from J.K. Simmons’ William Frawley, her on-screen husband and off-screen foe, with the kind of spiral energy from the 1930s that would have been perfect in Erin Dunn’s comedy, albeit with more creative frustration. Alia Shawkat gets a very rare chance to spread her wings as Madeline Pugh, the always exhausted writer who used to ask her boyfriend about every joke she made. It’s just a shame that we don’t get more of them.
There’s something to be said for making comedy seem like the hard work it really is, but Being Ricardos He doesn’t seem to have much to say about the art form beyond his formidable work. Every comment about it, every critique or networked or sarcastic note, looks the same. They all sound like Aaron Sorkin and this bombardment of identical voices in a long, deeply lined story inevitably descends into a whole host of head nods and, of course, the shaking of fingers. For a movie about the most famous comedy series of its time, Being Ricardos Not welcome, well, Sorkin-esque. Everything you expect to happen, all those annoying tunes, arrive and soon you can’t help but feel like you’ve been talked to. Director Sorkin is clearly unwilling to rein in writer Sorkin’s worst excesses. In fact, he refined it with flat-screen cinematography and a cut-out score from Daniel Pemberton, a composer who has far better retro grades under his belt (hello, man from uncleThe director does not need to deify his subject to tell his story but at least one hopes to want to understand it. Sorkin doesn’t seem to have any warmth, respect, or even curiosity about Lucille Ball. He just wants another mouthpiece. Like I said: he just can’t help himself.
Being Ricardos Available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
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Title image source: Amazon Studios