Anytime I see the phrase “based on a true story” in a movie it always gives me pause to wonder how much the real story has been edited. I got that same feeling as I watched Will Smith’s new movie, “King Richard.”
“King Richard” attempts to tell the story of Richard William, father to famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. It shows how Richard and his wife Brandy worked to keep their five children off the street and focused on higher pursuits such as education and athletics. Richard and Brandy coached Venus and Serena to give them a strong athletic foundation and when he wasn’t coaching, Richard was the promoter who spoke to anyone involved in the game of tennis. Later on, Richard gets his daughters connected with professional coaches who refine the girls’ talent even more.
“King Richard” is a good film, but it falls into the same format many biographical dramas follow. Person A must overcome obstacle after obstacle. When Person A arrives at their goal, they become frustrated and lash out at people. Enter Person B who sets Person A on the right path again and they become hugely successful.
After the first hour into “King Richard” I was a little tired of the storyline and Richard’s way of manipulating people into getting what he wants.
Will Smith’s portrayal of Richard Williams seemed to mimic other roles from his career. The one that comes to mind is the 2006 film, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” where Smith is thrust into the role of the struggling father wanting the best for his kids. Sound familiar? The role in “King Richard” seems almost an exact copy, which after 144 minutes was tiring to watch. I was happy to leave the theater and head for the exit once the credits started to roll.
Another part of “King Richard” I have a problem with is how neatly it is edited together to make this warm and fuzzy story with Richard at the center. The writers touched a little bit on the fact Richard had another family he left, using it as a plot point to put him on the right path to start thinking about what his daughters might want and not just himself.
The film’s other flaw is it focuses heavily on Venus and Serena’s early years in the first two acts, and Venus’ rise to become a professional athlete in act 3, while briefly touching on Serena’s professional career. I would have liked to see an equal amount of time spent on both stories, but there is only so much you can tell in 144 minutes.
“King Richard” is a good movie, but it is nothing to write home about. There are other sports biopics that are just as good. I give “King Richard” seven out of 10 stars. It is rated PG-13 for some violence, strong language, a sexual reference, and brief drug references. This film is playing at ShowBiz Cinemas, 108 Broadhead Road in Waxahachie.