Movie Preview: The full final trailer, “Being the Ricardos”

I don’t know, the pushback Kidman is getting over her turn as the “off camera” Lucille Ball in this biopic seems to miss the point.

Whatever her film career was before marriage and TV made her and her husband famous, Ball was a comedienne of her (TV) era, someone most famous for her various sallies into shtick — playing drunk, pratfalls, big broad braying laughs, exaggerated tears and even going toe to toe with Harpo Marx in a mime off, in one of “I Love Lucy’s” epic moments. Maybe she didn’t “do” vaudeville, but she was mimicking and upstaging the vaudevillians who were her TV contemporaries — Uncle Miltie et al.

The sitcom stuff was very technical — about timing, running gags and ensemble. Kidman has technique to burn. She makes these parts come off more with technique than personality.

Ball’s infamous mugging? Pretty much any actress who looks right with red hair could manage that.

So casting her and surrounding her with Oscar winners makes sense, and not just in an Aaron Sorkin appreciation of Towering Figure of the Tube/Businesswoman/Wife-struggling with a philandering husband sense.

I see enough here to think she “got” Lucy in her version of the Joan Crawford in the Pepsi boardroom scenes. Twitter is aflutter with complaints that Debra Messing didn’t get the gig. She’s certainly more experienced in sitcoms and shtick, but it’d be hard to see the movie as commercial or prestigious with her as the lead.

More “Lifetime Original Movie.”

Dec. 10, see Kidman as Lucy, Javier Bardem, whose career launched with him playing a gay Cuban, playing the under-rated tyro Desi Arnaz, J.K. Simmons as William Frawley and Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance, in theaters, sniffing around for Oscar nominations.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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