king richard posterI was very ambivalent about seeing King Richard. I like Will Smith, but he’s not among the actors I will seek out on a regular basis. He’s very hit or miss for me. Also, movies that deal with terrible parents make me squirm in my seat (I put I, Tonya in that category but it was impossible not to love). I always saw Richard Williams as one of those crazy sports parents, a type I have dealt with in my life.
I finally decided to give it a shot and I’m glad I did. It is not by any means a great movie. I liked it, but wasn’t over the moon. I’m probably very alone on an island with this opinion, but I did not love Will Smith’s performance. He felt like he was in a different movie. His “impersonation” of Williams was almost distracting. Everyone else seem like a real person while he seemed like a caricature. It felt like he was in a very different movie. What saved it for me were the performances of Aunjanue Ellis and Jon Bernthal. They were the best parts of the movie. Ellis felt like a real person and thank god she was there to rein in Smith. She felt like she was pulling him off a cliff (both story and acting) a few times. She deserves a Supporting Actress nomination. Bernthal was just fun and a real audience surrogate.
I wondered why this is an awards contender. But I get it. The Oscars now is about rewarding impersonation. If you play someone famous or infamous and you pull it off then you will be recognized. I dislike that trend in films. We need more original, fictional stories and fewer of these biopic-style treatments. Rant by grumpy old dude over.

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