Being the Ricardos Image

Being the Ricardos

By Alan Ng | January 19, 2022

To me, the best part of Being the Ricardos is the behind-the-scenes look at making a television show in the 1950s. Tony Hale is great as executive producer Jess Oppenheimer. He’s reunited with Alia Shawkat as Madelyn Pugh, one of the show’s writers, and Jake Lacy as Bob Carroll. I Love Lucy was run like a tight ship, and Desi’s role in the company was much more important than one might think. Now add all the ballbusting, office politics, and ego-stroking, and it’s a wonder how television survived the 60s.

My first of two complaints is that there’s a lot of subplots going on. I had to work hard to keep up with the main narrative and everything on the periphery. But as a child, I loved I Love Lucy so much that I wanted to see where this journey would take me. As much as I already knew about Lucy and Desi, their relationship was profoundly loving and incredibly complicated.

Secondly, the flashbacks fly at you so fast that you’ll get whiplash. The film opens with Lucy heading to the studio as rumors of her communist past and Desi’s alleged affair surface. This issue goes on for quite some time, and just as the communism storyline gets interesting, we’re thrown into a flashback. I almost wish they didn’t do any flashbacks at this point.

“…Kidman plays Lucy as a master juggler…”

Being The Ricardos is pretty much the Lucille Ball story. Nicole Kidman plays Lucy as a master juggler keeping in the air her personal life, Desi’s fragile ego, and the happiness of writers, actors, networks, and sponsors. All the while, she’s a top-notch comedian and star at the same time. But, seriously, how can you cast Javier Bardem knowing that he’s a baritone while Desi was a tenor. How’s that for inappropriate casting. As Desi, he loves Lucy and is fiercely loyal to her success, at his own expense.

Finally, you can’t watch an Aaron Sorkin movie without politics. He hits hard on the fact that Lucille Ball is the only woman in Hollywood with real power at this moment in time, but she still has to tone down some of that feminist mojo for the sake of Desi’s self-esteem. Then there’s the issue of whether Lucy was a communist, considering that Desi fled communist Cuba and is definitely not sympathetic to the cause. Sorkin makes it all work without being too simple.

I should be complaining about how bloated Being The Ricardos is, but I can’t. There’s a lot going on, but I wouldn’t cut a single word or scene. Like Lucy herself, the film is funny, deadly serious, and heartwarming all in one package.

Being the Ricardos (2021)

Directed and Written: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Being the Ricardos Image

"…no, Nicole Kidman does not do a Lucy impression."

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