While professional tennis offers its share of laughs with player outbursts, racket abuse, ridiculous press conferences and other on-court tomfoolery, rarely do we see a feature-length movie send-up of the sport fit for more mass consumption.
Not since Luke Wilson’s turn as Richie “The Baumer” Tennenbaum in The Royal Tennebaums have we seen a Hollywood attempt at spoofing the gentlemen’s game.
All that changes with the July 11th release of the HBO mockumentary, 7 Days In Hell, featuring Andy Samberg as Aaron Williams, a sort of Andre Agassi-styled goofball.
Williams engages in a seven-day Wimbledon match with Kit Harrington (spoiler alert, he was recently killed off in Game Of Thrones) as Charles Poole, a fabulously dim-witted British tennis player who seeks to be the first Englishman to win Wimbledon since 1937.
An ensemble cast that includes Serena Williams, Will Forte, Lena Dunham, John McEnroe, Jim Lampley and Chris Evert seems pretty spot-on from the looks of the trailer. Director Jake Szymanski is not known for his feature-film length work, but he has done his share of silver-screen pieces (Saturday Night Live, most notably).
Tennis could use a dose of slapstick, low-brow humor and this little opus looks like a nice companion piece to this year’s Wimbledon fortnight. Hearing Lampley’s faux commentary alone makes this worth a watch: “Second serve now, after killing a man..” calls to mind the kind of edgy, hilarious buffoonery of movies like Anchorman and Old School.
Yes, there’s been sappy dramas and rom-coms like Match Point and Wimbledon, but those weren’t fun to watch, especially since you’re girlfriend made you sit through them. Serena Williams sets the storyline as a “reverse Blind Side,” stating that her dad adopted Williams and forced him to play tennis. According to Evert, Williams is brash as a result of being “from the streets.”
As if a seven-day match wasn’t preposterous enough, you have other elements like Williams flipping the queen the bird who returns serve with a two-finger salute and Lena Dunham playing a former Jordache exec. Will Forte looks to be at his cut-up best, apparently offering the film its title during an interview.
Adding to the absurdity of it all, the casting director thought it fit to include such blasts-from-the-pasts as Mary Steenburgen, Howie Mandel and David Copperfield. We’re not sure yet if this mockumentary is supposed to be set in the late-80’s/early 90’s, but judging by the inclusion of such Hollywood dinosaurs, it seems like that might be a good assessment.
The film is actually on the shorter side (45 minutes) and while it appears to be gently mocking the formal atmosphere of Wimbledon, overall this looks to be simply good, clean, dumb fun.
‘7 Days in Hell’ debuts on HBO July 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, and will be available for streaming on HBO NOW and HBO GO starting July 8.