Friday, January 14, 2022

Being the Ricardos

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons, Tony Hale
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Running Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Rating: R

Fans of "I Love Lucy", like myself, will no doubt love the premise of Aaron Sorkin's latest triumph. We love any chance to be reminded of the wacky, over the top, physical comedic genius that is Lucille Ball. I still watch those black and white clips and laugh out loud at her pronouncing "Vitameatavegamin" or stuffing chocolates in her hat - it is iconic comedy. But "Being the Ricardos" shines a different light on Lucy and her relationship with her co-stars, showrunners and husband. I admit I longed for the goofball Lucy, when instead Sorkin shows a more serious, type-A, control freak version of her. It's worth a watch for the nostalgia, but it was a bit darker and heavier than I would have liked.

The film chronicles a busy week on the set of "I Love Lucy" - not only has Lucy announced her pregnancy, which will no doubt prove to be an issue with the network, but her relationship with Desi continues to make waves in the tabloids. She has also recently testified with HUAC to prove that she is not a Communist. I certainly remember hearing rumors of Desi's infidelities, but the allegations of Ball being a Communist was news to me. Kidman portrays Ball as a relentless comedienne - incessantly picturing jokes and bits in her mind, and gathering the cast at 2am to work on a scene. It's clear that she is burying the stress from her personal life in her work.

Being a big Nicole Kidman fan, it pains me to say that I struggled to fully believe her performance. Bardem does a fine job as Desi, but this is really Lucy's story. I thought JK Simmons was absolutely fabulous as William Frawley, the actor who plays Fred. He reminded me the most of all the cast members to the real actor. There are some light and funny moments from writers (Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat - "Arrested" reunion anyone? - and Jake Lacy) but those moments are limited. 

Give me a magnifying glass to a show that played on "Nick at Nite" and I'll watch it, but I'll need to acknowledge that it could ruin a bit of the nostalgia. "I Love Lucy" is near and dear to my heart, and "Being the Ricardos" definitely made me see it through a different lens. 

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