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BEING THE RICARDOS: A Bland, Dull, and Uninteresting look at Lucy and Desi

Amazon Prime

Directed by Aaron Sorkin

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, and Jake Lacy

Perhaps it’s my lack of connection to I Love Lucy, and the couple of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, that absolutely quelled any enjoyment for this film. Or perhaps, this is the first time for me personally where an Aaron Sorkin written and directed film, just didn’t hit on the notes where one expected him too. All the Sorkin-isms are very much there as one expects, yet all of it feels like a lower tier of Sorkin work. It’s 132 minute runtime, feeling incredibly overwhelming when it was paused, only to unveil that its only been on the screen for over 35 minutes with so much just thrown at the audience. After all, Lucille Ball is a huge figure and her story is bound to take so much time to really cover her legendary tale- Sorkin wanted to touch as much as he could to tell the story, yet the more he tried to stuff into the runtime the more it felt over bloated with far too many uninteresting stories to tell.

Follows Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage

Where Sorkins way of writing and making his true life characters works when he did Abbie Hoffman and countless others, if does not one bit for the characters within Being the Ricardos. The awkward Sorkin-esque way of talking and doing things, feels so disjointed and takes away from the glitz and glam of the cast it uses. The heavy political overtones that Sorkin thrives in drowns out the cheating scandal, and leaves near everything lulled out as if he thought he was directing and writing a spy thriller and not a film about Lucille Ball. Any attempts to show off old Hollywood, or the lifestyle of Lucy and Desi is lost entirely in his poli thriller esque way decision to shoot the film. As well, the way that Sorkin blends the current story in with some backdrops of Desi and Lucy’s life leading up to their issues and the communist vote issue- is completely mishandled, we get some messy editing, and a poor explanation at the relevance of why these scenes are being incorporated. It’s as if before finishing Sorkin realized a handful of scenes he thought would be interesting to give his versions of the iconic individuals some more back story. All it does in the end though, is just drown out and over extend an already long and overdrawn out story.

The technical stuff is pretty decent, I absolutely adored the behind shots of the I Love Lucy set. Some of the best and most memorable scenes take place here, and the way we got to see the various days of the filming process for the live studio audience shot show is actually really well done. The use of the black and white scenes as we get into Lucille’s mind as she pictures just how a variety of shots are supposed to be filmed for the show is well done, and those two things are probably the most intriguing things for Being the Ricardos.

In acting we get a handful of very good supplementary characters. J.K. Simmons delivers some brilliant monologues in our twelfth movie this year that featured him, he definitely found a way to make William Frawley one of the few interesting characters in a pool of uninteresting characters. Alia Shawkat was sassy as ever, and definitely delivered some great comedic moments- her screentime with Kidman’s Ball is some of the strongest in the film. Tony Hale continues to show just how much range he has, he’s got quite a bit to do in this one and I really enjoyed his role as Executive Producer Jess Oppenheimer. Nicole Kidman is no question a star, she may not have looked much at all as Lucille Ball- but she made the character her own. She commands the camera; and there is no question that even with a weak script she found a way to be the star of it. I wish I could say the same for Bardem’s Arnaz, who comes off as more of a caricature of what he pictured a suave charming Cuban man could be. Its as if he read the script and the way Arnaz is clearly not the hero of this tale, and decided to play it with no nuance- he’s not charming enough for you to like Desi nor is he charming enough to be as charming as the script wants you to believe. He’s as dull as the film he’s in, something that probably should not happen with a character known for his lively charm and personality.

In the end, maybe Being the Ricardos could’ve done better as a mini series. No matter what though, despite the incredible career Lucille Ball had and the impact she made for Hollywood and others- very little of this is shown in this film.


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