“Being the Ricardos” (Amazon)

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star in a scene from the film "Being the Ricardos." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Glen Wilson, Amazon Content Services)

By Catholic News Service

Writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s biographical drama portrays the set of the iconic 1950s sitcom “I Love Lucy” as a toxic workplace with stars Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her then-husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), supporting players Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) and William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) as well as producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale) and co-writer Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) all completely miserable.

Sorkin doesn’t hesitate to mash real-life events up to suit his dramatic purposes. Thus he packs the weeklong process of filming one episode chockablock with crises, including the threatened disclosure that Ball, and her immediate family, had registered as members of the Communist Party in the 1930s, the challenges of her second pregnancy and the revelation of one of Arnaz’s extramarital affairs in a scandal magazine. Dramatically, the tartness works, but viewers in search of something as innocuously pleasant and funny as Ball and Arnaz’s groundbreaking show may come away bewildered.

Fleeting sensuality, references to adulterous activity, pervasive rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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