“The Bronze” Movie Review
For the past several months, I’ve been trying to expand my horizons. Beyond the superhero flicks and mainstream rom-coms exist hundreds of low budget films that largely go unnoticed. “The Bronze” is one of those movies that nearly missed me by a hair. I had seen the trailers, online advertisements, and behind-the-scenes interviews. Therefore my interest in the film grew gradually, and for a moment I figured it had the potential to be a standout. Unfortunately, “The Bronze” lackluster effort that fails to stick the landing.
Having been the opening feature for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, “The Bronze” is a raunchy dramatic-comedy about the mediocrity of Olympic gymnastics. Melissa Rauch plays Hope Anne Gregory, a former Bronze Medalists and foul-mouthed woman-child who is leeching off her celebrity status. Living with her passive postman father Stan (Gary Cole) in her small hometown, Hope spends her days stealing money, getting free food from the mall, and taking pleasure (literally) in re-watching footage of her famed Olympic win. Her world begins to deteriorate when a promising young gymnast named Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) is gearing towards stealing the spotlight. Desperate to keep her title of the town hero, Hope agrees to take Maggie under her wing and sabotage the girl’s chance at being the next best thing.
Not only does the film suffer from weak marketing and little word-of-mouth, but it also suffers from its own persistent efforts to make each and every joke stick. The film was written by Melissa and Winston Rauch. And while the duo adequately structure a cohesive narrative with decent pacing, they fail to explore the subject of mediocrity as far as they could have gone. Hope Gregory is despicably selfish in every meaning of the word, but eventually has to face reality. Her supposed transformation from antihero to hero comes off more as a metamorphosis from antagonist to more sympathetic antagonist. It’s rushed and incredibly forced.
The acting all around is strong enough to move the film along, but the actual characterizations are over-bearing at times. Melissa Rauch and Gary Cole give good performances work okay together as father and daughter. Haley Lu Richardson also does well as the cutesy innocent, but her complete naivety and obliviousness to Hope’s true intentions is a bit grading. Other case members include Thomas Middledich as Twitchy, the owner of a gym and Hope’s love interest. Out of all the characters, his is definitely the most sympathetic, though his romantic interest in Hope makes little to no sense. Perhaps the most comedic performance comes from Sebastian Stan as Lance Tucker, Hope’s rival and former lover who threatens to swipe Maggie from under her wing to train her himself. Stan brings a narcissistic confidence to the character that borders on being campy, but manages to still be very grounded and funny.
Overall, “The Bronze” is a film that leans toward being a raunchy, laugh-out-loud comedy. But unfortunately, the natural substance needed for us to genuinely care about the characters and story are only skin deep. The film has pretty and focused visual style with decent writing her and there, but the majority of the jokes and character arches feel forced and overblown. The comedic features of it are simply trying to hard, and the effort tends to wear itself out in the process.
Cosmic Grade: 2/5 stars