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Movie Review

Wimbledon

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexuality and partial nudity.

Reviewed by: Keith Howland
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
September 17, 2004
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Featuring: Paul Bettany, Kirsten Dunst, Jon Favreau, Eleanor Bron, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Director: Richard Loncraine
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett, Mary Richards
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“She’s the golden girl. He’s the longshot. It’s a match made in…”

A few years ago, there was a film entitled “Love and Basketball.” Wimbledon may as well be called “Love and Tennis.” Naturally, all of the love and tennis occur around the Wimbledon world tennis championship.

Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is old for tennis. He’s 31, and he’s currently ranked 119 in the world. His peak was 11th, in 1996. Now he is watching younger, more vigorous men clamor to the top. He has been offered a cushy job as a tennis instructor for retirees near his home on the southern coast of England. But before he takes the job and officially retires, he wants to take one last stab at Wimbledon.

Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) is a young, boisterous, up-and-coming American, with two eager eyes on tennis’ top prize. She is a virtual cross between Anna Kournikova (the feminine comeliness) and John McEnroe (the court antics). Naturally, she is very popular.

Modern “romance” movies typically follow a standard formula: Man meets woman (usually due to a “cute” plot contrivance causing them to fatefully lock eyes); they fall swiftly in love through a series of rapid encounters; an impediment to their lasting relationship presents itself, creating conflict and temporary separation; then the impediment is removed and they are free to live happily ever after (or at least we hope they do as the closing credits roll). Toss in a supportive friend, a nutty family, and a colorful backdrop, and you have yourself a product.

Wimbledon is all that. Peter and Lizzie “meet cute” when they accidentally are given the same suite in their hotel; they have plenty of downtime between matches to get acquainted; and they have an impediment in the person of Lizzie’s over-protective father (Sam Neill), who does not want Lizzie to be “distracted” from her game and fail to win.

Sadly, another unavoidable trend in romance movies today is that the central couple (who you know from the commercials are going to get together) fall immediately into bed before barely even knowing each other’s names, and then subsequently get to know each other and then fall in love. Such is the case in Wimbledon. Apart from very little explanation of why these two people should fall in love (or why both are so uninhibited about their personal conduct), it is highly offensive and contrary to God’s intent for human sexuality. God forbids sex outside of marriage (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28), since it is to be only between a man and his wife (Matthew 19:4-6, I Corinthians 6:16) as part of the covenant of marriage instituted by God at Creation (Genesis 2:18-24).

As may be expected from the story content and PG-13 rating, the film contains moments of partial nudity or scant dress-involving several characters in addition to the two stars. In fact, there are a great many references to sex, which only in one instance is between a man and wife. Further, there is a great deal of offensive and obscene language, including the taking of the Lord’s name in vain. (Otherwise, there is no mention of God or anything in the spiritual realm.) Violence is minimal, as there is not too much to be had in the game of tennis.

While the “romance” is offensive and hardly developed, the tennis part of the film is deftly handled, suspenseful and entertaining. Even though both Peter and Lizzie are competing, it comes down to whether or not Peter will make it all the way for his last professional stand. As Paul Bettany can actually play tennis (unlike Kirsten Dunst, who is never portrayed having a volley), there are some truly thrilling sequences. To lend naturalism to the tournament play, John McEnroe and Chris Evertt are on hand with the play-by-play.

So in the final analysis, some great tennis is laden with offensive fornication and much coarse language-which is a shame because it is all so unnecessary.

It must be said, however, that Peter Colt is a very believable and likable aging tennis pro. He is believable because of Paul Bettany’s accomplished performance (aided by the use of perceptive glimpses into his thoughts as he plays), and he is likable because he remains humble and gracious throughout the tournament, even as he continues to win and grow in acclaim. It never goes to his head. In this respect he is reminiscent of Christ, who-though King of the universe-was more humble than all men. It is such a shame that this commendable character trait is spoiled by his shameless sexual activity.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie is cute, and I loved it! It is romantic!!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Cathy, age 35
Positive—I am a 37 yr old female, mother, and wife. I don’t think this movie is suitable for high school students due to its portrayal of sex as casual (at lease initially in this relationship), then as a natural component of their budding romance. Especially disturbing, Kirsten Dunst’s character is known for her promiscuous behavior during tennis tournaments and even her father, sees this as a positive for her…”keeps her game relaxed.” Even Hollywood usually reserves this type of love’m and leave’m, non-committal sterotype to male leads, but seems to be trying to intentionally break that mold in this movie.

It promotes a “you can be a sexual predator too” message to teen girls and for that reason, isn’t appropriate to teens (Christian or non-Christian teens) committing to purity.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the movie (however not without a little guilt for buying a ticket and supporting Hollywood’s amoral agenda). Peter Colt, played by Paul Bettney, is believable as a tennis player and athlete. You could not tell he hadn’t played tennis prior to the movie but you could guess he has studied acting formally and knows well how to assume a role.

I predict he will easily exceed Hugh Grant’s popularity in the states as he had demonstrated an impressive range in his acting capabilities just within his last 3 movies. Kirsten Dunst isn’t as believable as a tennis player but she acts well across Bettney in this role. The supporting cast is outstanding; I would venture to say that without Bettney’s German tennis friend, and his eccentric but not too off-the-wall family played by a well-rounded staff of newcomers, the movie would be flat.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Kristen, age 37
Neutral
Neutral—I had a hard time deciding what I thought of this movie. First let me say that I saw it with several girlfriends, and it was an enjoyable movie in the respect that it has a romantic storyline and a good ending. It’s a “feel good” movie. However, it pushes the limit with a PG-13 rating.

I wouldn’t let me 13 year old see it, and I tend to think of myself as a fairly lenient parent. There was a lot of adult material as far as sexual relationships and innuendos and an R rating would’ve been more appropriate. Americans tend to view movies for entertainment. Was it entertaining? Yes. Would it please God that people are watching it? Probably not.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3½]
—Rachelle Smotherman, age 31
Negative
Negative—This movie could have been so good, and yet it is ruined by the unnecessary amount of immorality that pervades almost the entire movie. I try to be moderate and fair when judging movies, but I found myself covering my eyes several times and wincing at the blatant sexual innuendos throughout the film. The setting and filming was nice and the acting really was quite good, but that didn’t redeem the film for me. It really disappointed me that the main characters went straight from being strangers to having sex, without any kind of romance (not to mention wedding vows) in between. The “romance” had no sweetness or real feeling until AFTER the sex scenes. It made me sad to see a story with so much potential fall short.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3½]
—R., age 21
Comments from young people
Neutral[Non-Christian] I thought this was a nice chick flick I watched it with my mom. It wasn’t excactly a family movie though.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3½]
—Emily, age 13
Movie Critics
…a by-the-numbers romantic comedy with a sporting twist that neither repels nor attracts with any great force…
—Christopher Lyon, Plugged In
…It’s too bad that this film didn’t include more romance and less sexual innuendo…
—Peggy Misura, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…not a great movie, and you will be able to live quite happily without seeing it, but what it does, it does with a certain welcome warmth.
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…possesses the complement of action that will satisfy both sports fans and romance fans…
—Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
…A harmless fantasy designed to appeal to (pre)adolescent girls and their mothers…
—Glenn Whipp, L.A. Daily News
…a tennis-background movie for people who don’t know or care about tennis…
—Ed Blank, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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