Being the Ricardos Parent Guide
Accusations of communist sympathies, marital problems, and personal complications. This is one heckuva week.
Parent Movie Review
For Americans of a certain age, Lucille Ball is a cultural icon. The spunky redheaded actress starred in her own TV show, I Love Lucy, which ran for six seasons and was viewed by almost one third of the American population. Lucille Ball’s genius for physical comedy and her distinctive voice gave her staying power that kept her in pop culture for decades.
With Being the Ricardos, director Aaron Sorkin goes behind the scenes, examining her career and marriage through the events of one knuckle-biting week in 1953. The film opens with a media report alleging that Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) had been a communist – a serious charge that could see an actor permanently blackballed in Hollywood. Then a marital crisis boils over and a personal challenge arises that can compromise the TV show. Neither Lucille nor her husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), know if they are going to have jobs by the end of the week.
The film is ambitious in scope, using flashbacks to examine Lucy’s early career and the beginnings of her marriage to Desi. It depicts the challenges of being female or Hispanic in an entertainment industry determined to produce homogenized programming. It also gives screen time to the challenges the couple face in balancing two demanding careers. Success and fame don’t eliminate their challenges: Lucy is intensely involved in overseeing the TV show while trying not to overshadow her husband. For his part, Desi is losing a battle with a gambling problem and his penchant for other women.
A character-based film like this one lives and dies on its casting and both Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem inject the story with believable personalities and emotions. Kidman sometimes feels a bit flat, although she usually manages to project intelligence, spunk, and determination. Bardem is excellent, ably generating charm and charisma, while also fading into weariness as his decisions catch up with him.
Fans of Lucille Ball will certainly be interested in this movie, but they will want to be aware of its negative content. There are frequent scenes of alcohol consumption, and approximately three dozen swear words, about a third of which are sexual expletives. The film also features some sex scenes: there is no explicit nudity and the lighting is dim, but the activity is obvious (and the parties are not always married). For viewers who are not deterred by the sex and booze, the film is an absorbing portrait of an unusual woman weathering multiple storms. Lucille Ball once said, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.” With this film, Aaron Sorkin proves that she was both.Directed by Aaron Sorkin. Starring Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release December 21, 2021. Updated December 23, 2021
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Being the Ricardos
Rating & Content Info
Why is Being the Ricardos rated R? Being the Ricardos is rated R by the MPAA for language
Violence: A woman is heard slapping her husband. A man jokes about beating a child. There’s mention of a woman being beaten by a pimp: the actress playing the part is seen bruised and bandaged. There’s mention of soldiers killing animals. A woman jokes about hitting a man until he bleeds.
Married couple seen removing clothing and embracing passionately on the couch. There’s a joke about a woman getting drunk and removing her clothes. A woman is seen in her underwear. An unmarried couple are seen in dim light having sex: the episode is shot from the side with no explicit detail. There’s a discussion of a woman’s pregnancy. Adultery is mentioned. There’s brief mention of prostitutes.
Profanity: There are approximately # swear wards in the film, including over a dozen sexual expletives, another dozen terms of deity, a couple of scatological curses, and a smattering of minor swear words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Drunkenness is a repeated topic of conversation. Main characters and other adults smoke frequently, as was historically accurate. Characters frequently drink alcohol in social situations. A pregnant woman drinks alcohol. A character drinks alcohol to cope with stress.
Page last updated December 23, 2021
Being the Ricardos Parents' Guide
Why was being accused of Communist sympathies so catastrophic in the 1950s? What was the House Un-American Activities Committee and how did it affect the entertainment industry?
Britannica.com: Hollywood blacklist
History.com: Hollywood Ten
Related home video titles:
For a fictional story of an actress and musician trying to make a relationship work, try the musical La La Land.
A Star Is Born follows musicians who try to keep their relationship going despite the challenges posed by alcoholism and their careers.
Joseph McCarthy and his use of the House Un-American Activities Committee to launch witch hunts are the target of journalist Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck.