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Wimbledon
DVD disk
Jan 1, 2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Wimbledon order
Director:
Richard Loncraine

Actors:
Paul Bettany
Kirsten Dunst
Sam Neill

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Lizzie Bradbury (Dunst), an up-and-coming tennis star with a domineering father (Neill) and an iron will to win enters the prestigious Wimbledon tournament with her sights set on nothing but victory. Everything changes however when she falls for Peter Colt (Bettany), an aging journeyman entered in his last tourney before joining the tedium of the local country club. Will Peter teach the youngster about a thing called love or will his balls go crashing into the net?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

I'm not sure if it's old age catching up to me or something of the likes but aside from losing my hair and growing fat, I actually enjoyed a "romantic comedy" which isn't really something I'm in the habit of doing. Why not you ask? Simple: because they usually all follow the same paint-by-numbers formula and end up culminating is sugary, ridiculously happy endings. Is WIMBLEDON any different? Absolutely not. Don't expect any surprises at all when you hit he play button because you sure won't be getting any but you will have a chance to see one of the most charming characters in this type of movie since that fateful day when a guy named Harry met a gal name Sally. Now WIMBLEDON is certainly not of the same caliber overall but Paul Bettany's performance is noteworthy if only because he manages to get the viewer completely involved in his character and really rooting for him in this inviting underdog story that mixes sports, romance and comedy in equal portions and great proportions. Bettany's unassuming wit and self-deprecating sense of humor are part of what make him a pleasure to watch whenever he's on screen and he gives what could have been a very one-dimensional character a much wider range. He is more than well accompanied by Kirsten Dunst as the young spitfire torn between the love of a man and an athlete's discipline. Dunst is more than just a pretty face and can definitely act when given the right role as she demonstrates in this outing.

Other than Bettany and Dunst, there's very little in terms of screen time for the supporting cast but they do add something to the film. Jon Favreau adds a bit of levity as a smooth-talking agent out to ride his man's last tournament for every sponsorship dollar he can squeeze out of it and Bernard Hill adds to the excitement of the underdog's role as Colt's feisty and emotional father. The only player I wish we'd seen a bit more of is Sam Neill who played Lizzie's father, coach and mentor. Granted his role did stretch beyond the total-a-hole tennis dad but I like Sam Neill and he gets little more than ten minutes on screen. Another positive was the very well filmed and quite believable tennis action. I'm little more than a casual tennis fan so this is by no means a pro's judgment but I didn't notice anything that really stuck out as unrealistic during the play. This may seem unimportant but for those who notice, it usually sticks to the back of your mind as you're watching the rest of the film and nothing is eve the same after that point. In a nutshell, this flick was quite predictable in the way it was played out but the likeability of the characters and the lightheartedness of the entire movie more than made up for it. If Paul Bettany is only half as charming in real life as he appears to be on screen, I'll never ask again why he gets to go home to the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly. And now, I must be off for some strawberries and cream...

THE EXTRAS

Full-Length Audio Commentary with Director Richard Loncraine and Star Paul Bettany: It's a good enough track and quite funny at times but overall it remains fairly standard. The two men discuss the usual elements of the film as it unfolds, get a few jokes in and seem to have a good time at it as well.

Wimbledon: A Look Inside (10 mins): A general feature about the story and the film. It displays all the main actors as well as Tennis legends Chris Evert, Mary Carillo and John McEnroe who play commentators and reporters in the movie and Australian Pat Cash who was the tennis advisor on set. Like all the other extras you'll find on this DVD, it's quite fluffy and doesn't really dish out much of any substance.

Welcome to the Club (3 mins): Some parts of the movie were shot before and after matches during the actual Wimbledon tournament which really surprised me considering Wimbledon's insistence on maintaining decorum and tradition make the Augusta National Golf Club look like the MTV Music Awards. This is an all-too-quick peek at how that was achieved.

Ball Control (5 mins): Another very quick look at some of the visual effect techniques used to complement the actors' tennis game. Very brief but probably the most informative feature on the DVD.

Coach a Rising Star (3 mins): Tennis advisor Pat Cash and the stars talk a bit about what was done to get actors with very little tennis backgrounds to act like pros on film. Blink and you will miss this.

You'll also find the Theatrical Trailer and some DVD-ROM Features to keep you busy for a little while.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
WIMBLEDON is a tad predictable but it features some very charismatic actors and rides them in order to overcome the usual death trap of the romantic comedy. The movie is worth a rental but the features are really fluffy except for the commentary track but even that is not a must-hear. A good date movie if you want to hit the couch with the lady but still want to get a slight sports fix.
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