Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I always root for the underdog.

Unfortunately, tennis is a game in which someone is almost always losing.

That'll be who I root for then, until they get ahead. When that happens, I'll switch allegiances. When it's all over and one of them has won, no matter which of them it is, I'll feel awful for the loser.

But I think I do get why tennis is so addictive. Unlike for example football, in tennis there's always a point just about to be scored. At any moment in any match, there is the real potential for either player to ultimately win. Even at championship point, it actually could still go either way. Tennis is a fit man's Top Trumps.

Sports movies are not like that. They are scripted according to the numbers. One knows before one's even bought one's ticket who the winner is going to be. Is it going to be the hero, after a long battle against the odds spanning the first 80 minutes of the film, or some other character who isn't the hero? Put it another way, if the hero loses, then how many in the audience will want to come back and pay to see the film a second time? Or recommend it to their friends? Or buy the DVD? Hmm, have to think hard about this one.

Romcoms are also predictable. I see no point in repeating the above paragraph.

So when in 2003 someone saw fit to shoot a romcom about tennis, it went without saying that the plot could not really be expected to contain many surprises.

Being in a two-week knock-out tournament, Peter wins every single game that he plays. It had to be scripted that way, because he has to win the last one. Off court, he also gets the girl (stunningly quickly), loses the girl, and then gets the girl back again at the end. (Sheesh, no wonder they have so much time spare to commute between London and Brighton)

Or does he? Once more the art of the filmmaker depends upon somehow convincing the viewer that, you never know, this film just might do things differently to the norm. Hey - this film surprised me by bucking the trend at the end, so maybe Wimbledon will too?

Course, romcoms aren't about the plot, but the journey. Peter's brother is quite funny, and gets some good laugh-out-loud lines. Also worth enjoying is Peter and Lizzie's marketing agent, whose single-mindedness somehow survives a game in which he's representing, and cheering on, both sides.

For me, the most impressive thing about Wimbledon is its music. Despite the inevitability of each game's outcome, well alright, most of them's, Edward Shearmur's compositions effortlessly got the adrenalin pumping through my veins and the hair standing on my skin whenever an otherwise routine upcoming win needed it. Well all right, when some of them did. Anyways, I just might go out and buy the CD of this one.

As an Englishman, and a Londoner, I feel a certain attachment to the annual Wimbledon tournament. Though I've never actually attended a match, I went around the museum there on December 2nd 2003, and since childhood there have been many years when I just haven't been able to avoid getting sucked-into the national hysteria that the fortnight brings with it.

"Come on Connors!!!" I remember trying to teach the budgie to say that.

Most of us get our familiarity with the tournament from the BBC TV coverage. Ah yes, that distinctive theme music, that same overhead camera-angle that they've been using since the world was still black-and-white, Sue Barker... these are all iconic aspects of the way we all perceive this annual season that are not in this film.

I mean, one scene shows Peter's dad watching the back of a commentator's head on TV! What channel is that supposed to be? A webcam?

All that to say, Wimbledon contains no surprises, (did I mention that anywhere else in this review?) but it is a pleasant enough ride.

As the ads on the trains used to say, it's Wimbledone.


2 comment(s):

At 1:53 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

"one scene shows Peter's dad watching the back of a commentator's head on TV! What channel is that supposed to be?"

I think you'll find that, hey-hey-hey, a much more important and famous commentator who is beloved by all livens up this film.

"Eurgh, tough crowd! Better go straight to the semi-final."

- Krusty, Wimbledon movie star.

At 9:43 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Surely you're not referring to John McEnroe from Anger Management, which I assume this film ties-in to?


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