The following article is taken from http://www.tnmc.org/dp/1122021.shtml
It was written by Jean Francois
It looks at the tennis project Reese Witherspoon is working on. What do you think of it? I guess this is going to be a cool movie.
To finish the week, we have Miss Jones' opinion on one of Reese Witherspoon's many projects in development. I also read the Untitled Tennis Movie on my transatlantic flight to Paris way back in April. I absolutely loved it. I hope she does this project eventually. Now if I could just get my hands on Legally Blonde 2. Have a good James Bond Weekend!!
Untitled Tennis Movie Script Review
"The Untitled Tennis Movie opens with a scene that all tennis lovers will immediately recognize as the notorious tennis player tantrum. Only this time around, it's not just Venus or Martina throwing down a racket and simply shouting, 'It was in!' On the contrary, it's a racquet being readied, aimed, and fired at a judge by an angry player engaging in foul, un-Wimbledon like language and behavior, not to mention killing her coach's car with a golf club. Quite a tantrum, aye? This is all within the first ten pages of the script, a script which I read from front to back so fast, I had to read it again in order to give what I hope is a semi-informative review. So you ask, does that mean that I was bored one day and didn't have anything better to do, or does it mean I really liked what I read? A bit of both. I was bored one day so I began to read a script that I thoroughly enjoyed. Though it's not Oscar contender quality, I'd argue, this character driven comedy is immensely entertaining. It's tolerably formulatic. The fact that we're dealing with a sports movie should be fairly telling of the story's plot and climax. If we start out with losers, we want to know if they will become winners. If we start out with washed out winners, we want to know if they will become winners once again. That's pretty much the gist of a sports movie, and Bruce Miller (screenwriter) doesn't stray too far from that norm.
However, the Tennis Movie peeks into a world to which few are privy, other than the occasional highlights of yet another Venus and/or Serena win. Those women are unstoppable, by the way, and if their natural prowess turns every opponent they meet into a cream puff, who cares about the finesse of the game?!? ANYWAY, what carries us through most of the script is this supposed life behind the championship tourneys, and the general crafting of a champion. Miller also does not slack up when describing how beautiful and well-toned everyone is. In fact, his descriptions could lead one to believe that he almost has an obsession with tennis players and a secret longing to be their babies' daddy. Smile.
Where MTV will only take us into cheerleading camps, Miller takes us into a tennis camp where young champions-in-training (and their coaches) are relentless, insanely dedicated, and hardworking. Most are also rich. He exposes some common dilemmas among their ilk, from cutthroat competition to sex role issues, which are left with the audience/reader to think on and, ultimately, change.or not. The basic storyline surrounds a young grassroots (aka poor) ex-tennis champion, Kate Maguire, who revitalizes and invigorates the career of a second-rate player, Miranda, while at the same time rekindling her own flame. One can't help but compare Miranda's character with the current perception of Anna Kornikova. You know, the pretty girl who is proudly displayed on covers of sports magazines and loved by 'fans', but her tennis game is nothing short of anemically frail. Yes, that would be Miranda. Kate's own career, however, has already been jeopardized by her attitude, which is both dangerously fierce and lovable. After the stint she pulls in the opening scene, she joins the ranks of one hit wonders and teaches tennis to rich kids at a Westchester tennis club. Needless to say, she's not happy there. Bottom line: She's in serious need of at least one of Naomi Campbell's anger management classes. Bruce Miller introduces Kate this way:
Petite and powerful, Kate wears a sweatshirt and a tennis skirt. Her legs
are smooth with muscles.
HER BLUE EYES stare with frightening intensity.
Raised poor in East Texas, Kate struggled to pay for tennis lessons and a
racquet. She hitchhiked to tournaments and slept in locker rooms.
Life has made her hard - a ferocious competitor.
Raise your hand if you too can now understand why this movie has been dubbed the Untitled Reese Witherspoon Tennis Project. After a joyous ride with Sweet Home Alabama, Witherspoon's playing Kate should be tantamount to playing Melanie as an angry tennis star instead of a famous clothing designer. Still, I'm looking forward to watching her bring Kate to life as this part was written directly for her.
Being the hardened woman Kate is, of course, it is only a matter of time before she softens, slightly, to allow love in her heart. Her knight in shining amour is also a complicated, anger management class candidate himself, but fortunately, he enrolls well before Kate. At this point in history, Hollywood has effectively coached the audience to cling to time and time again that age-old concept of a hardened protagonist with a steel exterior and mushy interior. Perhaps, we all know of someone like that, if we aren't her/him our self. Personification technique maybe? Whatever it is, it works in both getting and retaining our attention.
Outside of man's conflict with self, there is another conflict here. That is, man's conflict with man. While I meant man as in humankind, to stay within the mood of this script, I should say, woman's conflict with woman. These conflicts give depth to a screenplay that would otherwise be a one-story building tour of 'old champion again proves victorious' plaques. Whether she actually will be proven victorious, I won't say, but it's nothing you couldn't find out online if you really wanted to know.
I admit that I was surprised at the direction Miller chose to take with Miranda and Kate's relationship. After all, Kate is our hero. She's the one who is supposed to experience the great comeback, not helping to mold a champion out of an egoistic player whose passion for the sport is lacking. Kate doesn't even have respect for her, but she goes through with it. Of course, it's Kate's way or no way. Kate also doesn't like the fact that Miranda uses sex appeal to get what she wants as she comes mighty close to wooing her (Kate's) own man. Perhaps, it's the only technique Miranda knows to use in order to get what she wants just as Kate uses anger to get what she wants. Watching these two characters develop, and Kate re-discover her own passion for the sport sets the audience up for the next half, which is full of its' own not so surprising surprises. It's a sports movie!.Okay, two teasers. Venus and Serena win, as if there were any doubt, and there are no real losers. How sweet.
At the end of the day, beaucoups of kudos go to Miller for spotlighting women sports and girl power. He also gets the Disney Award for capitalizing on the opportunity to plug the importance of teamwork and fastened emotions. But, to give a 360 degree perspective of the script...
After reading a review of this script by a Corona Productions contributor, Darwin, who totally bashed this script, obviously, I have to disagree. Where his biggest complaint with the script is his feeling that Tennis is an open sport not overpopulated by the wealthy which Miller makes it out to be, I still see tennis as a sport embraced by few of the lower middle class and almost none of the poor. The contributor had the nerve to say that because the William's sisters have entered tennis, all preconceptions of the sport are now null and void! And therefore, Miller doesn't know what he's talking about. I guess Tiger Wood's entrance onto the golf scene nullifies the mammoth perception of the sport as one played primarily by the wealthy too, if we are to go by his logic. Darwin also says that Miller's depiction of women's tennis as a diehard competitive sport is not factual since women's tennis is now seen as 'cool' or the hip sport to play. No hard feelings, but give me not one but ten thousand breaks! We're not talking about the forty-something year old women who play tennis after tea. We're talking about the women who make it to Wimbledon, the French Open, the U.S. Open, and the list goes on of opens. Bottom line: the script is a blatant attempt to exaggerate the norm so that issues can be raised more easily. I hardly believe that Miller or anyone in fictional storytelling tries to create characters that mimic reality to the finest detail. Who would patron the entertainment industry in that case? Movies and entertainment are an escape from reality, a critique of reality if you will, which is fairly obvious in this case. As far as the script being summarized by the word cliché, one would be hard pressed to find anything new under the sun. And while The Untitled Tennis Movie is certainly not new, it would get my vote over Remember the Titans any day!"
-Miss Jones laying down the law..
That's all folks...