The Highly-Anticipated Film ‘Being The Ricardos’ Is Neither Here Nor There

When a respected, beloved icon is portrayed on screen, naturally there’s a lot of pressure on the casting department to find the absolute perfect actor to fit the part. Even with fictional icons like Scarlett O’Hara or Harry Potter, there was an all-out national search. When it comes to TV history heavyweights like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz getting their own historical drama this year, there was instant puzzlement among Lucy fans.


Aaron Sorkin’s new movie, Being the Ricardos (available on Amazon Primehere’s a link to a free 30-day trial), has award-friendly, critical darlings Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as the legendary leads; despite Australia-based Kidman not being ‘all-American,’ Spain-born Bardem not Cuban, and both actors being about a decade too old for the characters. Not to mention that the makeup used to make Kidman look like Ball in the promos appeared a little alarming to some.

How and why did these casting decisions happen? Do Sorkin, Kidman and Bardem really have all the talent to recapture the magic of America’s favorite TV couple of the 1950’s?

The film chronicles the production week of a season 2 episode of the no. 1 sitcom in the country, I Love Lucy. Tension rises as everyone on set tries to dodge awkwardness over press rumors that male lead Desi Arnaz (Bardem) is unfaithful, while Arnaz’s wife and female lead, Lucile Ball (Kidman) is facing her own rumors of secretly being registered with the Communist Party.

To home viewers, Lucille and Desi are Lucy & Ricky Ricardo: the funniest and most charming couple on television. But behind the scenes, no one would guess there’s trouble at home or in the studio. On top of all this, the network and sponsors are not happy with Lucille’s pregnancy announcement and beg her to consider hiding her condition on the show.

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J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda co-star as tempestuous “Lucy” castmates William Frawley and Vivian Vance, while Tony Hale plays showrunner Jess Oppenheimer. I have to admit that for about the first hour of Being the Ricardos, it did take me a while to get used to Kidman’s and Bardem’s casting. Kidman’s look in particular is a bit distracting and overcompensating for her lack of resemblance. Interestingly enough, the makeup comes off more natural during the B&W sequences, which I guess proves Orson Welles’ opinion that B&W film is the actors’ best friend. This isn’t to say Kidman and Bardem give poor performances, as both appear to give the material their all. The best cast actor in the biopic has to be Arianda, who really is a dead ringer for Vance in costume.

As for the writing and direction, I feel at this point you go into a Sorkin project knowing what you’re going to get. His trademark snappy, witty dialogue is now the way of Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino, where you can recognize his style instantly. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Although I also think he’s still stronger with the pen or keyboard than as a film director. But I did like the non-linear approach of Being the Ricardos going back and forth between the week of production and flashbacks showing the origin of Lucille & Desi’s marriage.

If you can handle the usual liberties taken with fictionalized real-life stories told on screen, Being the Ricardos might catch your attention this holiday season.


Do you like “I Love Lucy?” Are you going to watch Being the Ricardos on Amazon Prime or in theaters? Let us know in the comments!

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