Something you need to understand is that my family consists of I Love Lucy fanatics. Our mother raised us on this show. As my sister very lovingly points out, anyone in our family can relate our life experience somehow to I Love Lucy.
Many years ago, they made a TV movie called Lucy and Desi: Before the Laughter. It looked cheap and it was over-the-top melodramatic. This looks like they hired A-list actors and this is spearheaded by talented writer/director Aaron Sorkin.
And honestly, this looks so much worse than that TV movie.
It is understandable when a biopic cannot find someone who looks and sounds exactly like the person they are playing. But when you take on the role of television icons, the visuals and voices matter so much more.
Because of this, my biggest issue is the casting. Javier Bardem looks and sounds nothing like Desi Arnaz. I don't see any of the wide-eyed masculine, yet boyish charm in him. Nicole Kidman reaches some connection to Lucille Ball, but these seem like small moments. Although I do have to say that even though JK Simmons does not look like William Frawley, there is something in the way he is carrying himself that feels right.
The other big problem I have is that this movie seems to be taking the most uninteresting approach to these TV pioneers: politics. The trailer implies that Lucille Ball is caught in some kind communism scandal. But this carries little-to-no interest to me. At least Before the Laughter tried to take a more complete picture of their life and their relationship. Being the Ricardos looks like it is taking a page from Lincoln by focusing on one particular time in their lives to give us a window into their character. That is fine, but a political angle worked in Lincoln, but doesn't really work for Being the Ricardos. I get the feeling that we are being set up for a big lecture about how Hollywood stars and producers have to stand up and speak truth to power and political blah blah blah.
This movie also seems to make the same mistake that Before the Laughter made. It is true that Lucy and Desi had an incredibly volatile and dramatic relationship. But that is not why we love them. It may be why people still remember Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, but it isn't the case for the couple from I Love Lucy.
We love them because they made us laugh.
And even after all these years they are still there on our televisions making us laugh.
I don't see a lot of laughter coming from Being the Ricardos.
But I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I will be very happy if I am wrong.