Movie Review – Being the Ricardos
Category : Movie Review
Director: Aaron Sorkin
I like both Aaron Sorkin and Adam McKay, and I don’t mind what others sometimes find flippant, casual, smarmy, or on-the-nose about their styles, though I do often see their point. Being the Ricardos happened to bring all of those possible negatives to the forefront, becoming an exhibition of potential problems and directorial flaws instead of an example of how that’s not the case. It’s hard to defend when you’re confronted with obvious examples, and I feel that Being the Ricardos is that type of movie, one you apologize for even while you’re trying to enjoy.
Once upon a time, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the hottest duo in entertainment, with a show that combined music & comedy, family & fun, in a way that had perhaps never been seen before, and their popularity told the tale. But all was not perfect behind the scenes; Lucy was pregnant, Desi was cheating, the McCarthy-era anti-communist campaign was after them, and their legacy seemed in danger. With all this hanging over their heads, the show had to go on, and go on it did, with Lucy steering the ship with a talent that comes once a generation and is never fully appreciated.
You know Sorkin’s writing (A Few Good Men, Malice, An American President, Sports Night, West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War, Social Network, Moneyball, Steve Jobs), we’re beginning to know his directing (Molly’s Game, Chicago 7), and there’s no doubt he’s got genius to spare. The problem comes when his more annoying traits dominate the screen to the detriment of all his other, wonderful talents; the result is something like Being the Ricardos. The movie is quip-heavy, too-quick, too on-the-nose, buried under a style that often doesn’t fit, and crammed with themes that simply weren’t present at the time this story takes place. Sorkin tried to summarize Lucy’s & Desi’s problems, tried to make them modern, but forget to make the plot seem believable, like we were actually watching two famous people be normal people. We weren’t; we were watching Nicole & Javier pretend to be two famous people vomit dialogue everywhere, moving through years in a matter of seconds, using terms we use now not then, and generally becoming confused by it all. Not the worst movie of the year, not nearly the best, what we have here is a taking on of too much and a failure to process it correctly; as much as we love Lucy, we can’t love the way this movie makes her life look.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆