Saturday, July 13, 2024

“Challengers” is More Than Expected

“Challengers” movie poster

“Challengers” is one of the most publicized movies right now. From Zendaya’s press tour fashion choices that nail it every time, to the trailer alluding to a threesome?! There is also the observation that Zendaya marks the third Spider-Man girlfriend to take on a tennis role. Kirsten Dunst starred in “Spider-Man” in 2002 then “Wimbledon” in 2004. Emma Stone starred in “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012 and then “Battle of the Sexes” in 2017.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

Plot summary: Tashi (Zendaya), a former tennis prodigy turned coach, has turned her husband into a champion. But to overcome a losing streak, he needs to face his ex-best friend and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend.

We start the film with Tashi watching a tennis match and seemingly losing her focus during it. Two men on the court hit back and forth and the tension is thick. Then we jump back and learn that Tashi is married to Art (Mike Faist). They are living a lavish life together, but the chemistry seems off. We then get a peek into Patrick’s (Josh O’Connor) life. He is too poor for a hotel and has to sleep in his car for the tennis matches. The next morning, he is drooling over someone else’s Dunkin Donuts at the registration table (don’t worry, the woman shares with him). Ben Affleck would be proud. I’m getting ready for a good rich boy / poor boy story, but one thing you learn about the film quickly – nothing is what you expect.

The film jumps back to 13 years prior when Patrick and Art are inseparable. The boys are both interested in Tashi and the trio are getting ready to start their next chapter. Art and Tashi are going to Stanford and then aiming to go pro in tennis afterwards. Patrick forgoes the college experience to start pro right away. Insert the trailer’s threesome tease which was far less involved than expected. Which I LOVE! I’m unimpressed by a film when I feel like I’ve already watched the movie just by seeing the trailer.

The Real Passion

While the film is marketed as a love triangle, there is no love greater than what Tashi has with tennis. Watching her on the court, there is so much passion, so much intensity. She is a strong character who you are rooting for. And I’m not rooting for her with the men, I am rooting for her with her true love – tennis.

Is the movie sexy? Yes, sure. Although, the trailer makes it seem like there is a lot more. I wasn’t counting, but I am nearly sure there were more butts seen than actual sexy time.

Watching “Challengers” is an experience. At some points, the time jumps felt excessive, but they also always kept me on my toes. I love a good movie where I can’t predict what is going to happen next and in this I truly couldn’t. It is an artsy-er movie for the audience that doesn’t want to go full artsy. Looking at you “Poor Things.”

At times, the loud French music muffling some conversations was annoying. The slow-mo could be overly dramatic. But the idea to have a 7-second perspective of the tennis ball? Actually, kinda cool. Also, the call backs. Spot on. You felt like you were part of the inside jokes without the film being blatant about it.

My Take

This is definitely not your dime a dozen movie. It’s unique and captivating. I realized, at times, that I had been holding my breath. I was in it, on the court, in Tashi’s heart. It cements why Zendaya is one of the most remarkable actresses of our generations. Grab some popcorn and settle in.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Sport

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Actors: Zendaya, Mike Faist, Josh O’Connor

Running Time: 2 hours 11 minutes.

Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and graphic nudity

Movie Times: Click here


Alyssa K. Burns
Alyssa K. Burns
Alyssa is a graduate of Coronado High School and was in the founding broadcast journalism class at CHS. She earned her BA in Communication from CSU East Bay and completed her MBA from CSU San Marcos. Her passion for writing and interest in the behind the scenes of business, leads her to write frequently about Coronado businesses. You can find Alyssa walking around the ferry landing with her husband and shih-tzu terrier or enjoying a cup of coffee at one of Coronado's favorite cafes.Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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