Wimbledon (2004)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sports Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 17, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - France , United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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An underrated romantic comedy that triumphs thanks to the power of its canny casting and a script that, while leaning too heavily on the work of Richard Curtis for inspiration, nevertheless succeeds in creating tension, humor, and what the screenwriting gurus call "rooting interest." Director Richard Loncraine is to be congratulated for letting the genuine chemistry between leads Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst play itself out onscreen. The scenes that work best are those that feature the lovers lobbing verbal volleys back and forth, Tracy-and-Hepburn style; they prove what Curtis' Notting Hill (1999) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) already taught us: there are few situations better designed to inspire dazzling dialogue than a stubborn, obsessive American arguing with a witty, fatalistic Brit. Meanwhile, the plot point-driven, "rom-com" cliches, such as her possessive father (Sam Neill, trying to swap his inherent affability for a Machiavellian quality but instead ending up seeming just sort of cross) or her arrogant boyfriend, are instantly forgettable, and the filmmaker smartly minimizes their impact. It may be derivative, but Wimbledon (2004) is a grand slam.