Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Starring: Will Smith, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton
King Richard must be a magical movie, because it held my attention and my interest even though I despised and abhorred its main character. Or should I say villain, because Richard Williams is not what I would call a hero, not the misunderstood mastermind that this film portrays him as, and not the wonderful father he imagines himself to be. The Williams Sisters signed off on this story; I can only imagine that they are still brainwashed by their bizarre parents and their insane religion, because this isn’t a show of sports legends, this is a cautionary tale, and we need to see it that way.
Venus & Serena are two of the most accomplished, recognized, and stupendous athletes the world has ever seen; their humble beginning makes their rise to success all the more impressive. They didn’t have the money for private tennis lessons, they didn’t have the courts and the club and the sponsorship, they didn’t live in a fancy neighborhood; they had their dad, who drove them to succeed, they had Compton, which was not a place to finish growing up in, and they had the desire to be champions, which was undeniably in their future. This is the story of Richard Williams and how he raised two phenoms, a family going from almost nothing to absolutely everything through the power of determination and relentless hard work.
OK, so there’s a story here. We know the athletes, the Williams Sisters are incredible, their past makes their rise that much more awesome, and they had a father who would not take no for an answer, who forced them through the barriers that tried to block them, and that’s a compelling tale. That’s the part that hooked me and that’s why I liked the movie, but there’s a whole second side to the plot that I detested, and that’s Richard himself. This movie is named for him, yet he was tyrannical, obsessed, belligerent, and a devout follower of a religion that I can’t even begin to denounce; you can research Jehovah’s Witness yourself and come to your own conclusion. That he’s the hero here boggles my mind; these girls succeeded in spite of what I would call his abusive control, not because of it. Men are the superior gender in their religion, and that insanity is echoed in this film, with only small nods to their mom, and only trivial mentions of Richard’s bizarre and extremely unholy behavior. Simply put, we shouldn’t be watching a movie glorifying this man like he’s a god, or, literally, royalty, and the fact that we can like this movie anyway shows that at least someone had talent making it (Reinaldo Green, Zach Baylin), because their subject matter didn’t help, he almost ruined the entire thing.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆