Being The Ricardos
I went in with high hopes. I was a bit disappointed.
As a grade school kind in the 1950’s, I became hooked on TV like most Americans of all ages. While there were great weekly shows like Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners (1955-56), none was better than I Love Lucy. It ran from 1951-57 and close to 60 million Americans watched it at home each week.
Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley formed a great comedy team. Unfortunately, Director Aaron Sorkin failed to capture that magic. On top of that, it didn’t make sense that Sorkin turned the film into a mini documentary where several surviving members of the shows production were called upon for commentary.
The film takes place over one week as the characters prepared with screenwriters for the next weekly show. None of the actors had a great deal of affection for their co-stars and Sorkin chose to concentrate on this subject.
Ms. Ball and her husband Desi were in a troubled marriage. Played by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, Lucy suspected him of having affairs since he frequently did not return home in the evening. She hated the line Ricky used in their TV script, “Honey I’m home!”
On top of that, Lucy was pregnant and the shows director and sponsor, Phillip Morris, did not want that shown or referred to in the scripts. Lucy prevailed though everyone, and I mean everyone, smoked constantly. It was no wonder that Arnaz died of lung cancer in 1986.
But another problem for Lucy was the public revelation that she had registered as a communist as a young girl. Representative McCarthy was attacking Hollywood on this subject in the 1950s and Lucy and Desi had to join together to fish her out of this nasty pond.
What saved this film were the appearances of J. K. Simmons as William Frawley, Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance and Alia Shawkat as the scriptwriter Madelyn Pugh. They held your attention in every scene and added some needed piss and zing to the film.