Plot: Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) has always been a gifted ice skater, even at four years old she was skating circles around her competition. Her skills on the ice were undeniable, as she was head and shoulders above her peers and could pull off moves the others couldn’t dream about. But despite her excellence, she wasn’t able to attain the scores she deserved, as the judges felt she wasn’t the image the sport wanted to portray to the world. After all, she was poor, came from a dysfunctional family, and ice skating wasn’t a redneck sport. At home, she endured almost constant abuse and banter from her mother (Allison Janney) and when she was able to escape to live with her first boyfriend, he picked up right where her mother left off. So with black eyes and hangovers, Tonya continued to skate and excel, but could she make it to the top of the sport, even if ice skating didn’t want her?
Entertainment Value: I, Tonya is a masterful movie, as it tells a story with the ideal approach and in truth, I can’t imagine how Tonya Harding’s narrative could be better handled on screen. The narrative is soaked in dysfunction and the movie never tries to cleanse the material, instead it embraces the dysfunction, even when it takes some quite dark turns. This approach makes sense because with Tonya as our narrator, the things that happen to her are tempered by her own sense of humor, as well as her unique and rather colorful perspective. I can see how some might not like the tabloid style that is used here, but it works and if you’re familiar with the real life events that inspired the movie, then you make it makes perfect sense. Margot Robbie is excellent as Tonya, as she runs with the over the top elements of the role, but it never feels like a caricature, as she also retains the immense heart of Tonya. Allison Janney is also incredible as Tonya’s mom and she really nails the tabloid vibe of the film, as well as the look and cadence of the real life woman. I just loved I, Tonya, as it tells such an incredible story and does so from the heart, never buffing out the rough spots, but also making sure Tonya’s drive, heart, and skill are conveyed. As I said, I simply can’t imagine how Tonya’s story could be better told in this medium.
No nakedness. A couple of sex scenes, but no visible naked flesh and the girls at a strip club have tassels on their breasts. And in case you’re curious, no the honeymoon video isn’t discussed whatsoever here. A little blood, from Tonya being punched, roughed up, and even stabbed, as well as a brief look at some rabbit skins before they’re cleaned up, but not much red stuff here. The dialogue is fantastic, like a real life Lifetime movie dialed up to max. I think some people will have a hard time believing these people really said and did some of the things shown in the movie, so I was glad to see some clips from the real people in the credits. These are colorful, highly dysfunctional people and the dialogue is razor sharp, hilarious, and often dark. As for craziness, the colorful characters, melodrama, and tabloid vibes earn a few points and while this is based on real life events, it is still wild stuff.
Overall Insanity: 5/10