Being the Ricardos Review

Being the Ricardos Review 1
Being the Ricardos Review 3
Being the Ricardos
Editors Choice

I Love Lucy was an institution: the documentary-like intro at the start of Being the Ricardos makes that clear. Despite growing up decades after it aired, I saw every episode as a child. Without the proper context, it was easy to think that it was still current. Hot off the heels of the Judy Garland film, it’s time for another Hollywood legend tale.

Although the story of Lucy and Desi is timeless and could be multiple movies or several seasons of a series, this particular story takes place during a single week of production: right after Lucy was accused of being a communist in public and announces that she’s pregnant. Hardly anyone could accuse an Aaron Sorkin script of being too boring.

Being The Ricardos Review 2

While Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem don’t quite look like their counterparts of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; they sound and act like them. It’s clear that the two of them studied Lucy and Desi’s mannerisms, and Kidman is an absolute riot in the scenes where she’s playing the over-the-top character of Lucy (“on stage”) as Lucy.

Bardem and Kidman have great chemistry throughout the highs and lows of their on-screen relationship: even if a lot of the focus is rightfully put on Kidman, a smart move given how funny and striking she is every moment she’s visible. Everyone else is ready to match them.

Being the Ricardos can be a bit jarring and sometimes confusing when these documentary-like bits appear…, but they’re always interesting.”

J. K. Simmons is a fantastic Williams Frawley (who played Fred Mertz on the I Love Lucy show), and, frankly, the story of Frawley and Vivian Vance could be a movie on its own. The interspersed future “older” versions of Madelyn Pugh (a writer on the real I Love Lucy show) and John Rubinstein (writer/producer), played by John Rubinstein and Linda Lavin respectively; help build the tension and mystique of the show within a film.

Being the Ricardos can be a bit jarring and sometimes confusing when these documentary-like bits appear (par for the course for the mile-a-minute Sorkin), but they’re always interesting. After all this is a two-hour show of a very complicated subject, and it’s far more interesting than off-screen narrated exposition.

Being The Ricardos Review

Being the Ricardos offers insight into how the TV show was produced. How Lucy and Desi met…some background on Desi’s early life and how persuasive and charismatic he could be…a brief look into the psyche of the characters, and how their personalities inform their performances. Plus, a look at the tension between everyone involved in the production. It jumps around, essentially serving as multiple chronicles, all of which command your attention with swift pacing. Frankly, I’m more excited for future works from Sorkin after seeing Being the Ricardos.

With Sorkin at the helm (both directing and writing, as per usual), there are plenty of Sorkin-isms to roll your eyes at. Characters are often too witty for their own good and there’s lots of walking and talking; but in terms of limitless rapier wit, Lucy and Desi are two people that the former feels appropriate for. I was skeptical of the casting choices with Being the Ricardos at first, but it only took me about 10 minutes to completely buy in. After seeing everything that went into this project first-hand, I want more. Sorkin and company have done a fantastic job of making this small slice of a starlet’s life seem so big, and Amazon should be ashamed of the lack of promotion for this.

Final Thoughts

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