Effortfully discomfiting may start to describe this new hyper-articulate dramedy from Arron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) inspired by a beloved 1950s sitcom, I Love Lucy. A behind-the-scenes look that really is more wearying than weighty given its shrewd patterning and earnest enactments.
Being The Ricardos stars Nicole Kidman (Bombshell) and Javier Bardem (Dune) as the eponymous surname couple (married of-screen) who reached a slew of televisions in the 1950s and for a long time in syndication. The program has a Cuban band leader (Bardem’s Desi
Arnaz as Ricky) with an impetuous (Kidman’s Lucille Ball as Lucy, as the casting stoked a little controversy) red-headed woman.
Screwball serious discourse defines the cognizance of an actorly prowess for the pratfall as well as the projection of the elite writer and filmmaker onto his able players. Like the better limited biopic Judy the film connects with the tension at what seems like a pivotal moment for Ball (her early screen appearances included The Three Stooges).
The tabloids profess her husband’s philandering while the influences of her leftish granddad has the media reacting with Communist rumblings. As her scenes are honed with shameless nitpicking.
While Bardem imparts an impish quality into Arnaz, Kidman has that fussy, artsy through not instinctive process into an impersonation (with some latex) that is more bewildering than enthusiastically beguiling. In a way adding up to a puffed-up, uphill battle, which seems odd given Sorkin’s affinity and background into the genre, as the show inaugurated three-camera system.
If a browbeating constraints can be damaging in the case of the leads, less scathed are the secondary characters. With Nina Ariabda and J. K. Simmons as Vivian Vance and William Frawley who were the Ricardos best friends and neighbors, Ethel and an older Fred Metz. Also, the forbearing executive producer Jess Oppenheimer is rendered by Tony Hale (Toy Story 4) and the principal writer Madelyn Pugh by Ala Shawkat (Cedar Rapids).
Being The Ricardos aims to be relevant about the taboos, accusations, and smearing of a notable Hollywood twosome from a kind of bookend mockumentary with commentary by older versions of some of the supporting actors acquitted by the likes of John Rubinstein, Robert Pine, and Linda Lavin. Given what they reiterate, a deceptiveness around light, transporting comedy is ultimately left on the table.