Wimbledon: A predictable game, set and match

Sept. 21, 2004, midnight | By Olivia Bevacqua | 16 years, 4 months ago

Tennis chick flick is sexy, but stupid

Director Richard Loncraine's Wimbledon follows the foolproof formula of almost every chick flick known to man: there is the prerequisite hot girl, a cute guy, a cheesy relationship that gets serious really quickly and a slew of one-liners. It's cute, it's funny, it's predictable.

Peter Colt (the lovable Paul Bettany) is a British tennis player on a seemingly endless losing streak. At age 31, he's watched his international ranking drop from 11 to 119 and is on the verge of retirement. All in all, he's at a fairly pathetic place in his life when he's granted a wildcard into his last Wimbledon tournament.

At Wimbledon, he somehow manages to accidentally walk into the room of beautiful Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) while she's taking a shower (if only life were so easy). Bradbury is a young, up-and-coming American tennis star at her first Wimbledon. She is talented, driven and looks great in tennis outfits.

Despite Bradbury's fly-by-night attitude toward men, she finds herself falling deeply in love with the veteran athlete. Insert a bunch of tender exchanges and the expected puns about the word love (also used as a score in tennis). The romance blossoms in spite of the disapproval of Bradbury's father (Sam Neill), who believes that dating will distract his daughter from her game.

In a less-than-shocking turn of events, Colt begins to win his matches, moving up the ranks and launching into a winning streak that could ultimately result in a tournament victory. He regains his agent, fame and even his formerly alienated parents begin to warm up to each other.

Bettany is witty and skillful as the awkward Colt, convincing both on and off the courts. Dunst is her charismatic self, lighting the screen with her dimpled smile and mischievous laugh. Remarkable computer generation by visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers makes Dunst and Bettany believable as world-class tennis players. Unfortunately, singer David Gray should be banned from ever getting involved in another movie soundtrack, as his sugary sweet voice slaughters some of the would-be cute moments between the leads.

With beautiful stars, a clichéd story and the sappy exchanges to go with it, Wimbledon is a lackluster movie that adds nothing new to the chick flick genre.

Wimbledon (100 minutes) is rated PG-13 for obscenity and sexual content

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