Thursday, May 16, 2024


 by Adam Riske

Nominated for “Best British Actor” (Paul Bettany) at the Empire Awards UK. He lost to Paddy Considine in Dead Man’s Shoes.

• Best Scene/Moment: There’s this weird arc with a ball boy during Paul Bettany’s tennis matches that builds to the kid getting hit in the face with an opponent’s serve clocked at 144 mph. I was ho-hum about the movie, but that part rattled me. He seems like a nice kid. Why did you do that to him, Wimbledon!? It really bothered me. Anyways, he comes back later in the game (like a champ) and Bettany gives him his tennis racket after the match, so I guess everything’s fine and I’m overreacting.

• Best Song: “Mobile” by Avril Lavigne. It’s one of my favorite Avril songs and probably her most underrated.
• Best Merch: A “Wimbledon (2004 Dealer Screener) VHS” for $9.99. Not much to choose from as far as entertainment memorabilia for this movie is concerned on eBay so I’m going with the promotional VHS used to encourage video store retailers to order rental copies on Wimbledon. Kinda lame. I’ll do better next time.

• Director Grade: Wimbledon was directed by Richard Loncraine. He’s made a lot of movies since the 1970s but I’m unfamiliar with most of them save for Wimbledon and the very goofy Harrison Ford tech thriller Firewall (which also features Paul Bettany). Loncraine directed Ian McKellen in Richard III, which I vaguely remember Siskel & Ebert talking about on their show but never saw. I don’t have much interest in the rest of his movies, so I’ll go with a lower grade than usual. Sorry Richard. Overall Grade: C

• Double It with This 2004 Movie: The Prince & Me

• Year 2004 Movies to Trailer Before Them: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Spider-Man 2

Color of Night or Wimbledon? Color of Night
• Mall Movie? Nope. You don’t go to the mall for tennis.

• Only in 2004: Paul Bettany as a romantic comedy lead.

• Scene Stealer: Bernard Hill.

• I Miss: Kirsten Dunst and Sam Neill, who unfortunately disappear for most of the third act so it can become The Paul Bettany Show.

• I Don’t Miss: Hearing John McEnroe speak. He plays a Wimbledon announcer in the movie.

• 2004 Crush: Kirsten Dunst.

• 2024 Crush: Kirsten Dunst.
• What I Thought in 2004: I really liked it. I thought it was pleasant and featured charming performances by Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. I remember liking that they got together pretty early in the movie, so it wasn’t one of those I Hate You-I Love You romantic comedies.

• What I Think in 2024: It’s okay. I really don’t know why I thought it was so good before, but that’s not to say there aren’t things to like in Wimbledon. The cast is appealing (although I don’t love that they sideline Dunst in the second half) and it’s diverting. Where it falters for me is the chemistry between Dunst and Bettany. On their own, they’re both good and playing interesting characters but there’s no electricity between them as a romantic pairing. Also, the comedy in this movie (mostly supplied by Jon Favreau and James McAvoy) is pretty lame.

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