First things first. This is not really a movie about Stephen Hawking's work. There is a movie out about a lot of the physics he worked on, and it's called INTERSTELLAR.
Now, in the postscript of my INTERSTELLAR review I made a cheeky little comment about Prof. Hawking and Penthouse Magazine, and pondered if THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING might answer my question. I had no idea, but yes it does! (Spoiler Alert: his nurse helps him.)
Now the fact that the physics he worked on is something of an afterthought is probably good for the movie. It's about his disease, his wife, his family, and his survival. This story doesn't have to be about a physicist. It could be about...a writer, and it could still be great. Or it could be about a rock star, and be amazing. This one is about a physicist, and it's also great. In many moments it's pure melodrama, in the best sense of the word. But I think what I appreciated most is that it highlighted Hawking's sense of humor. Something that (despite his cameos on The Simpsons and Big Bang Theory) I've never really thought about. But I'm convinced that his sense of humor helped him survive. I love the moments where when he first gets his robot voice his first words are "Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer, do." Or when he's rolling around chasing his kids with the robot voice saying "Exterminate! Exterminate!" Or the whole Penthouse Magazine story with Kip Thorne. That stuffs hilarious.
And can I praise Eddie Redmayne enough? Probably not, but I'll try. He's amazing. You don't really think about the physicality of being motionless, but his physicality reminds me--and I'm not exaggerating--of Lon Chaney Sr. in some of his best non-monster roles. Like when he played a legless criminal in THE PENALTY. That's right, I'm comparing Eddie Redmayne to the original Man of 1,000 faces and I still don't think I've praised him enough. Of course, that's based on one role, so I'll be looking for great performances from here on out.
Running Time: 123 minutes
My Total Minutes: 374,143