‘Battle of the Sexes’ is about a tennis match — but it feels a lot like the 2016 election

The story picks up with a pay gap dispute — sound familiar? — between King (Emma Stone) and tennis champ-turned-bigwig Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), who argues that the men’s prize money for an upcoming tournament should be eight times more than the female winner’s take.

“The men are simply more exciting to watch,” he says, breezily. “It’s not your fault; it’s just biology.”

..  “A lot of the country shared those attitudes about women, and Bobby was just kind of mocking that, or using it and exploiting it.”

This disparity was systemic: King’s battle wasn’t just against one sexist troll fueling a controversy. Her solution was to start a new women’s tour — the Virginia Slims Circuit — much to Kramer’s frustration.

.. “Sloane Stephens wouldn’t be getting a check for $3.7 million for winning the U.S. Open. If it was up to Jack Kramer, she would have probably been getting a check for $50,000, and she would have been happy.”

.. King takes her training seriously. Riggs, meanwhile, does a nude photo shoot and practices while dressed as Little Bo Peep, bringing real sheep onto the court. He knows that the more outrageous he is, the more the press will pay attention. His rhetoric makes for perfect sound bites: He loves women — in the kitchen and the bedroom, he says. And — okay, fine — they have a place on the tennis court, too, because, “who else will pick up the balls?”

Through it all, the stakes seem much higher for her than for him. She’s trying to make history and challenge an unfair system. He’s just looking for attention.

..  but ultimately Bobby did pay a price — as Trump may later. Maybe his brand will be worthless.”

.. After King beat Riggs, no woman would play him; an earlier offer to play Chris Evert for $1 million disappeared — and then, so did he.

..  Howard Cosell’s dated commentary during the game, which appears in the film from real, archival footage.

“Here comes Billie Jean King — a very attractive young lady,” Cosell said. “If she ever let her hair grow down to her shoulders and took her glasses off, you’d have someone vying for a Hollywood screen test.”

The famous announcer spent much of the match with his arm wrapped around Casals (played by Natalie Morales), who was giving the female counterpoint. Casals remembers how uncomfortable it was standing there while Cosell’s heavy arm rested on her shoulder, not to mention the way he literally talked down to her.

.. “We felt it was really important to put the real Howard Cosell in and use exactly what he said, because you almost wouldn’t believe it otherwise. At the time, he was a relatively progressive guy. It’s just a sign of where we were.”

.. the reaction to the test screening for the movie before the election was very different from the one after.they were still struck by how much more positive the feedback was after Trump was elected.

Steve Carell Does Not Mock the Undeserving

When I first came on the show, I had to quickly figure out how I was going to make it work for me, morally. I don’t think I would have been able to live with myself had I just gone out and mocked people who didn’t deserve it. So I turned it around on myself: I became the idiot reporter, and the brunt of the joke.

You say you’re not political, but don’t you think determining who is innocent and who is not is a political question?
I didn’t see it as political, I just saw it as being a decent human being. Really, it’s very simple: I just didn’t want to make fun of innocent people. There is no joy in that.