on 1 December 2012
As I already own the Wimbledom DVD and like the movie very much, and as the movie is visually attractive and fairly recent I thought that I would benefit by purchasing the Blu-Ray hi-def version. I have done this with other movies and enjoyed a significant increase in picture quality. Alas, not so with the Wimbledon Blu-Ray.
Even more unforgivable, the Blu-Ray version with its vastly larger capacity, unlike the DVD, contains no extras such as director commentary etc. (It does however contain a long tedious smug advert from Universal Pictures patting themselves on the back for their history of movie making.)
A disappointing Blu-Ray. Get the DVD instead. It's cheaper and has more content.
on 7 February 2005
This is a film with no hidden depths. Tennis purists are unlikely to find the matches all that convincing and this may irritate. Yet I've given it four stars. I went to see this film wanting to be cheered up and to relax, not having to think too hard. It is a lighthearted romantic comedy which delivers exactly what you would expect from its genre. It is predictable and it is fun. If you want to be challenged then this is not for you. Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst are engaging with the backing of a supporting cast of quirky characters. Some of these work better than others. Overall however it is a film which presses all of the buttons you expect such a comedy to press. If you liked Love Actually or Bridget Jones or Notting Hill I'd expect you to like this. If romantic comedy isn't your thing then this isn't going to change your mind...
on 28 June 2010
The other reviews cover the weak points and the good ones, so no point in going over them all over again: yes, this film has got flaws, but so what? It's all good, relaxing, feelgood fun which does what it sets out to do - perfect brain candy, with Paul Bettany succeeding in lifting a script and plot which might otherwise have sunk without trace. Draw the curtains, take the phone off the hook, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!
Okay, a British romantic drama comedy, lets just make sure everything is in place; Stuttering English male lead? Check. Sexy American female lead with a strong character? Check. Quirky upper-middle class relations? Check. Obligatory scene in the grounds of Kenwood House? Check. Romantic fall-in-love/Problem/Happy-Ever-After template used? Check.
The chemistry between Dunst and Bettany is good and the Tennis scenes surprisingly gripping, everything else is pretty routine, except for the conclusion which is revoltingly sickly.
on 22 February 2005
Wimbledon was one of the less 'looked forward' to films of 2004. Wimbledon proved its self as a film that had more to it than expected. I didn't feel there was a good chance of real suspence and romance in a tennis match but I was wrong. Wimbledon somehow pulls it's self off quite well. Dunst perfoms admirably giving the protagonist some sort of memorable feel to him. All in all not a bad film, though I feel it won't reach the great heights of some of the other film of 2004.
With its outdated snobbery and procession of forlorn hopes, British tennis is certainly ripe for satire, but Wimbledon misses every target. The closest it gets to relevance is a hint of a joke at the expense of a Tim Henman figure crashing out in the quarter finals, but they're far too nice to make anything out of it. The obvious reason is in the credits - the film was made with the co-operation of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Association that has been holding tennis back (and keeping working class or Jewish potential or actual champions out of the membership list) for decades, meaning that in return for access to the Wimbledon courts the film dropped any jokes at the game's expense. There aren't even any serious on-court tantrums (perhaps the price of getting John McEnroe to cameo). Instead we get Working Title once more going through the cookie cutter romcom motions, trying to create an idyllic Richard Curtis world without Curtis (Brighton, which boasts perhaps more beggars than any other city in the UK, looks like something out of a Laura Ashley catalogue here) where rich people fall in love with other rich people before overcoming gimmicky obstacles - in this case Paul Bettany's ageing player in his last tournament finding that offscreen sex with Kirsten Dunst improves his game as much as it hinders hers.
Nothing unexpected happens en route to the predestined happy ending, unless you count Sam Neill trying a new American accent without much success, though a couple of the jokes hit the target, director Richard Loncraine keeps the camera moving to try to infuse some energy and urgency and Dunst does look cute in her tennis whites, though the script ensures she barely gets much of a workout. And cliché lovers will be happy to see that time-honored sporting movie cliché where the hero's win is disallowed at the last minute, forcing him to prove himself again in a would-be tense finale with foregone conclusion written all over it in giant burning letters of fire makes yet another appearance here...
No extras beyond a smug anniversary featurette about Universal's 100th anniversary on the Blu-ray, but the DVD includes audio commentary from Loncraine and Bettany and four behind the scenes featurettes.
on 6 October 2007
I am not a fan of tennis, but I thoroughly enjoyed this film and the background. Kirsten Dunst plays a rising tennis star. Paul Bettany is playing a pro that was once ranked number eleven on the tennis circuit and has fallen to 119th at the beginning of the movie. Paul's character has given up on his professional tennis career but has drawn the wild card spot at Wimbledon.
Our two stars have great chemistry on film and it flows through to the characters. And of course Wimbledon is a co-star of this film. Besides the romantic comedy this movie is supposed to be, it also does a wonderful job of showing the inner workings of Pro Tennis. The tennis through out this movie looks real. The director has succeeded in making the actors look like great players. And the stress and determination it takes to play the game at this level.
This movie is actually two movies combined into one. A tennis film and a witty romantic comedy that is about chasing your dreams. And shows that if you are going to try and succeed at something, in order to do your best you must do so with all your heart. It is worth watching.
on 4 April 2005
In the opening sequence we see Peter Colt (Bettany) playing a younger, fitter player, and losing. Perhaps it's because I resonate with the feelings he expresses that I empathised with the character immediately. Bettany has rare depth as an actor: he can be funny when the script calls for it, or exude tremendous pathos. And aren't there times when we all feel that we are being overtaken by younger, meaner types?
This film isn't really about the tennis: it's about the relationship. Colt (in the twilight of his tennis career) unexpectedly falls for cute superbrat Lizzie Bradbury (Dunst), and she inspires him to succeed when he gets a wildcard at Wimbledon. The expected obstacle in the film is provided by Bradbury's dominating father (Sam Neill turns out a mediocre cameo).
I expected that Colt would lose early in the tournament and provide support for Bradbury as she prevails: I was pleasantly suprised by the turn of events.
Dunst gives a solid (if not sparkling) performance as the American superbrat in her first Wimbledon. The rest of the cast fill their roles with enthusiasm, and this works to the film's credit. Bettany is excellent as the weary, cynical Colt.
The atmosphere at Wimbledon is well created: the all-white clothes, the umpires with European accents ("New balls, please"), the purple-clad ballboys, the murmurs and gasps of the crowd at Centre Court (filmed on location), and the voices of the familiar commentators (most notably McEnroe, whose semi-ironic comments on Bradbury's brat antics are perfectly toned with the movie).
The tennis itself is clever: I was very impressed by the rallies the actors came up with, but of course, after the initial service the ball was put in with CGI. It's a testament to the film-makers that we don't notice this during the movie. (Some of the swooping action shots were a little Matrix-like for my personal comfort). Tennis fans won't find all that much racquet-action; nor will they come away feeling insulted.
This film betrays its heritage: the quirky also-rans are inevitable in Brit films. Here we see Colt's younger brother (who persistently bets against him), and his parents' dwindling marriage (Bridget Jones could be his sister in this regard). We also meet Colt's agent who suddenly regains interest in him.
This film caters to the pleasant notion that even when you think you are past it, you can still show the youngsters a thing or two. On top is a pleasing romantic comedy with two happy endings.
My favourite line comes from the DVD extras, from John McEnroe's interview. "This film is fantasy. Thinking that a Brit could ever win Wimbledon, that's the fantasy part."
on 20 July 2005
Where I say a shame, I don't mean to do down the film. Far from it. This is an example of romantic comedy at it's best, the thing that is a shame is the fact that the only way a Brit can win Wimbledon is in a film!
As for the film itself, it follows Peter Colt (Paul Bettany), an ageing Tim Henman type player (promised lots, delivered little), as he goes into the final tournament of his professional career. We are introduced to the fact that throughout his career he has never had the hunger to really make the final step from being a skilled player to being a world-beater and he does not hold out much hope for his final appearance at Wimbledon.
However, just before the tournament he meets Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) who is the latest hot player on the womens tour. The two have an instant attraction to each other, and start a relationship which seems to have a healthy effect on his game, but a destabilising effect on hers.
There are some good supporting characters from Lizzies father, excellently played by Sam Neill through to his parents again well acted by Bernard Hill and Eleanor Bron. The only really weak character is Ron Roth, the two players agent who is little more than a characature given easy gags that are not especially funny.
I found myself enjoying this despite myself (romantic comedies are not normally my thing) and would recommend it to anyone except single blokes!
on 24 June 2007
Wimbledon: the great tennis spectacle of an English summer coupled with the team behind Notting Hill - this should have been such a great film. It's good, but it's just doesn't quite reach the mark.
Paul Bettany has the Hugh-Grant-role of self-effacing-posh Englishman, while Kirsten Dunst has the Julia-Roberts-American-star role and as in Notting Hill they meet by accident and an improbable paparazzi-chased love affair begins. Bettany and Dunst are perfectly good in their roles and certainly well-matched but they are hampered by an over-familiar dialogue: where 4 Weddings has the clanger "is it raining? I hadn't noticed", Wimbledon has the equally awful "love means nothing in tennis". I found myself constantly seeing and hearing imitations of previous, better English rom-coms and wondering why they hadn't had the confidence to branch out of the fantasy England in which everyone owns a posh house and car.
As for actual tennis, aside from completely missing Wimbledon's fourth round, the footage is great. The crowds, the balls, the power; it's well done, though I wonder if they needed John McEnroe and Chis Evert so obviously trying to look natural while they commentated? But of course, whatever the title of the film, it's not about Wimbledon, it's about two characters who happen to be quite good at tennis.
There was I'm sure, a better film somewhere in there in the original planning process, but if rain delays play of the real Wimbledon championships, you could do worse than watch this.