First reactions to “Being the Ricardos,” Aaron Sorkin’s biopic of comedy legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, are coming in following the movie’s first screening in Los Angeles. The idea of Sorkin, with his divisive trademark style, tackling the material and the casting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as the “I Love Lucy” stars left many skeptical that the film could pull it off. But based on the first reactions below, it appears the movie has entered the awards race, with audience members praising Kidman and Bardem for capturing the essence of the duo.
The film follows the real-life marriage of Ball and Arnaz, who starred as married Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on the CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy” for six seasons in the ’50s. J.K. Simmons stars as William Frawley, who played Lucy and Ricky’s landlord Fred Mertz on the show, and Nina Arianda is Vivian Vance, who played Lucy’s best friend Ethel Mertz. It also features “Arrested Development” costars Tony Hale and Alia Shawkat, as well as Clark Gregg, Linda Lavin, and Jake Lacy.
Sorkin directed from his own script; it marks his third directorial effort after “Molly’s Game” and the Oscar-nominated “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Sorkin’s trademark style of long monologues, fast-paced dialogue, and earnest wit (best captured in “The West Wing”) has made him as celebrated as he is divisive.
Those qualities, and Sorkin’s choice in casting, has made “Being the Ricardos” a subject of curiosity in the film community since the project was announced earlier this year. In a recent interview, Sorkin defended his picks: While Kidman may not be the spitting image of Ball, that was no barrier for the director.
“We made this movie during COVID, and so in Zooming with Nicole and Javier and everyone else, I’d make it very clear to them that I am not looking for a physical or vocal impersonation of these people,” Sorkin told the Hollywood Reporter. “Leading up to the first rehearsal, I’d write to them every day, ‘Just play the characters who are in the script.’ I know that Nicole was working on Lucy’s voice for a while, and I wanted to relieve her of that.”
Amazon Studios is set to give “Being the Ricardos” a limited theatrical release on December 10 before it streams on Prime Video beginning December 12. Check out a handful of first reactions to the film in the posts below.
Sorkin's pandemic shoot Being the Ricardos is a fascinating look at one fraught week for Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz, under duress on many fronts with I Love Lucy and their marriage at stake. Kidman & Bardem deliver Oscar-worthy perfs. But flashbacks with de-aging CGI are creepy.
— Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck) November 14, 2021
Lucy, you’ve got some campaigning to do: BEING THE RICARDOS played well in its first screening, suggesting a solid awards contender. I bought Nicole more as offscreen, dramatic Lucy than as a sitcom dynamo, but the audience still ate her and Javier Bardem up.
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) November 14, 2021
Being the Ricardos is a behind the scenes look at I Love Lucy & the personal life of Lucy & Desi Arnaz. A very strong script by Sorkin along with terrific performances all around. My only issue is that the actors never disappear into the characters they play. #BeingTheRicardos pic.twitter.com/Hfm51g5KHu
— Scott Menzel (@ScottDMenzel) November 14, 2021
#BeingTheRicardos is full of wit and charm. Nicole Kidman owns the spirit and vigor of Lucielle Ball. Nina Arianda and J.K. Simmons are standout sensations. Really taken by the Daniel Pemberton score. Aaron Sorkin-isms throughout but they mostly work. Worth the wait. #Oscars pic.twitter.com/6FPiLnhfZY
— Clayton Davis (@ByClaytonDavis) November 14, 2021
If you want impersonations, #BeingtheRicardos might not be for you. If you want performances that capture the spirit and soul of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, you’re in for a treat. Aaron Sorkin at his Sorkienest – great quips, motivating speeches, and a stellar ensemble. pic.twitter.com/Jwhx8sOo27
— Jenelle Riley (@jenelleriley) November 14, 2021
Nicole Kidman gets a standing ovation from the SAG heavy voters at the end of the introductions for #BeingTheRicardos q&a pic.twitter.com/57h31iLsWQ
— Gregory Ellwood – The Playlist 🎬 (@TheGregoryE) November 14, 2021
Last night’s first big screening of #BeingTheRicardos definitely silenced the skeptics. A 5th Oscar nomination for Nicole Kidman seems especially likely. So cool to chat with her and the fantastic Javier Bardem (also a strong contender) in front of the very impressed audience. pic.twitter.com/LgWmpPpgKW
— Dave Karger (@davekarger) November 14, 2021
#BeingTheRicardos just left me in a puddle of tears. What a beautiful and deeply moving behind the scenes look at the pressures and complexities involved in making that show – highs, lows and everything in between. Nicole Kidman is INCREDIBLE. pic.twitter.com/7toaVjGOIM
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) November 14, 2021
First industry screening in L.A. tonight. Being The Ricardos is a triumph for Aaron Sorkin, Nicole Kidman, Javier Braden , JK Simmons , Nina Ariando and all! 2nd time I have seen it in 2 weeks. Oscar worthy and then some. Standing ovation for Nicole tonight. pic.twitter.com/SR1kNBLtYx
— Pete Hammond (@DeadlinePete) November 14, 2021
Aaron Sorkin’s “Being The Ricardos” is significantly better than expected. I was expecting “slick & good enough”; in fact it’s smooth, grade-A, crisply written & very impressively acted (especially by Nicole Kidman, who captures Lucille Ball’s voice, Javier Bardem & JK Simmons).
— Hollywood Elsewhere (@wellshwood) November 14, 2021
After having the honor of seeing #BeingTheRicardos last night, there’s no way in hell (or elsewhere) Debra Messing could’ve pulled off this role in the context, intensity & truth-telling it’s in. No way. #AaronSorkin, like everything he touches, knew exactly what he was doing.
— Joan & The Roses 🌹🦋❤️🔥 (@JoanAndTheRoses) November 14, 2021
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