First point. I haven’t cried at a movie this much in a long time. This is one powerful story of overcoming obstacles and achieving great success. Overcoming prejudice, overcoming the star-maker machinery, staying within one’s family values. I did not realize the Williams sisters grew up in a strong Jehovah’s witness family. There are various things I would strongly disagree with the JWs about, but not their emphasis on family and core family values, and not their insistence on following Jesus’ teaching on non-violence and humility. It’s those values that shine through in the amazing performance of Will Smith playing Richard Williams. He should be nominated for an Oscar for this performance. Truly. And the girls and the wife are equally well acted. They may be ‘straight out of Compton’ but their story is not like many others from Compton in its Christian flavor in some respects. The portrayal does not fail to show Richards flaws as well as his strengths. He’s a patriarchal domineering dominator of his family, and that is not a core Biblical value. Nevertheless, there are many good things about this film.
The story takes us from when Venus and Serena are young girls through their initial teenage years until Venus finally turns pro. In other words it tells us the back story from the late 80s up until 1994 when Venus played her first pro matches, including a semi-final match against the then no. 1 ranked player in the world. Those of us who love sports know the rest of the story, so it was nice to focus on the hidden years, the gestation period. And it was nice to hear some of the music of that period once more as well. This film is over 2 hours long, but it never drags, it involves no bad language, no sexual innuendo, and a lot of heart-warming scenes. It’s all about a papa bear protecting his cubs and trying with his mate to raise them right. I loved this movie, and am glad it’s getting lots of kudos and good rating, which it richly deserves. I wish there were more moving stories like this in the cinema. But we have to be thankful there is this one— its a perfect family film during this holiday season.