A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that characters treat sex extremely casually, referring to it as a way to stay loose and relax during competition. Similarly, love or sustained relationships are perceived as distracting the athletes from competition and weakening the killer instinct. This movie has profanity of the British and American varieties, and includes a brief scene of nudity as well as implicit sexual situations. Characters drink alcohol. A character alludes to the loss of her mother.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When fading tennis player Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) draws a wild-card slot at Wimbledon, he decides it will be his last hurrah on the court. While physically still game at 32, his intense personal monologues demonstrate why he is a long-shot. His pre-service thoughts include the mantra "I'm going to choke... ". Along comes his anima and muse, intensely focused Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) to awake in him his killer instinct and self-confidence so that he can win one last time. Their contrasting styles are a study in British and American stereotypes, with his tact, dry humor and quiet desperation playing against her ambition, bluntness and childish enthusiasm. While Lizzie is a supremely self-assured competitor as long as tennis is the subject, she talks with her trainer/father (Sam Neill) in cringing little-girl tones and cannot stand up to him when he tells her not to become involved with Peter. Her father is all about winning, and he worries that Peter will be a distracting emotional entanglement.
Is it any good?
Sun-splashed shots and a series of beautiful, thoroughly English sets get this sports-romantic-comedy over the net, but a clumsy romance with flat dialogue means WIMBLEDON is far from an ace. The quick, cleverly shot movie becomes flat-footed when Dunst and Bettany share the screen. She seems an excellent match for him on the tennis court, but in the scenes where they get to know each other, Peter seems more an older brother than a potential love-interest. Like Dunst, Bettany is a treat to watch but he seems unable to shed his tendency to be more observer than participant.
On the sports level, the movie is at its best. With lots of diving for shots, zooming angles and super-powered serves, tennis never looked so exciting. The scenes with Peter and his practice partner, Dieter (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) deserve a buddy film of their own, and serve as the warmest and funniest in the film, which does not say much for the Colt/Bradbury love match. The commentators on this game might quibble over the final score, but the movie stays well within the lines of solid entertainment even if the love match never breaks out of the second-tier circuit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between Lizzie and her father, about how the combined role of being a father and a trainer might be a challenge, and about how Lizzie succeeds (or not) in communicating with him. They might also wish to discuss the challenge of living the athletes' lifestyle and how it alters their relationships with friends and family.
- In theaters: September 17, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: December 28, 2004
- Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, Sam Neill
- Director: Richard Loncraine
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, sexuality and partial nudity
- Last updated: April 7, 2020
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