Loves: Thomas Middleditch, Gary Cole
Likes: Weird sex scenes
Dislikes: Terrible characters
Hates: Big Bang Theory
Gotta have Hope.
For a movie about gymnastics, there sure isn’t much on display in The Bronze. There are a few flips, handlebar turns and all that other jazz but this movie starring Melissa Rauch is more about her character than anything else. And, boy, what a terrible character she plays. Written by Rauch and her husband, The Bronze follows a one-time Olympian athlete who lives on her past accomplishments in a town that feeds into her attitude. Think Eastbound and Down with an even worse lead. But for all the unenjoyable bits, there are a few bright spots in a movie that will neither affect your life nor hinder it.
The Bronze stars Rauch as Hope, a girl who lives in a town where she is lauded for her performance in the 2000 Olympic games. Living with her mail man father, the always great Gary Cole, she does nothing more than look out for herself. No one seems to see past how she treats them, an aspect that stands well until the credits role. It isn’t until her ex-coach dies and leaves a suicide note that Hope finds the will to be somewhat of a better person and train the town’s next Olympic hopeful (Haley Lu Richardson) – even if she’s only doing it for the promised half million dollar pay out. She buckles down to work with the local gymnastic gym’s owner Ben, Thomas Middleditch in a twitch filled performance, and earn her money.
One of the main negative aspects of the movie proves to be Hope’s attitude. For whatever reason, Rauch chose to have her character act entirely despicable for every second of the film. She treats people in her town like garbage at every turn, especially Middleditch’s Ben who suffers from a facial twitch. But what’s odd is her respect for both the physical town itself and gymnastics. She shows massive love for the town, going as far as to pick up old cigarette butts and forcing Richardson’s Maggie to pick up her spat out gum. And yet she steals money from its residents by breaking into her dad’s mail truck. But then she’ll give some of that money to an electric wheelchair bound man at the mall so he can get his turning radius fixed. It’s all too confusing. There’s something to be said about her wishy washy ways especially seeing as there’s no real response to it. Hope also proves to be a fantastic coach as she shows Maggie the line between getting onto the US Women’s Gymnastics team and being number one when she herself was number three. There is, however, someone who proves to be worse than Hope. Sebastian Stan has an inordinate amount of fun playing the new US Women’s coach, Lance – a rival from Hope’s past. It’s not specifically good but it gets the job done.
But problems with The Bronze stem farther than character. The script is only okay, sharing similarities to other films in the genre like Bad Words. The juxtaposition of Richardson’s Maggie and Rauch’s Hope slaps the viewer in the face with how obvious it is. And director Bryan Buckley didn’t seem to know what to make of the Rauch’s script as the movie sped up and slowed down at various moments. Lastly, the budget really seeped through as the crowd at the games looked to be taken directly from NBA 2k6 and real gymnastic moves are nowhere to be seen.
Should you watch The Bronze?
This is tough. One of the biggest box office bombs of all time has a great cast, production from the Duplass brothers and some decent jokes. However, The Bronze is entirely too slow, perhaps even unsure of where it’s headed too far into the movie. Tension is faked with the main characters’ attitude being a real draw. She shows no sign of growth until the last few minutes but, by that point, it might be too late. And the epilogue doesn’t help with the situation. But maybe it doesn’t have to have the ending it should. Perhaps there’s less to The Bronze than initially thought. This movie will do nothing for you if you’re not expecting it to. And, even if you are, let your hopes down a bit and you’ll find this movie to be somewhat appealing.