The Bronze

The Bronze gets a gold medal for ambition. Directed by Bryan Buckley, it stars the Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rausch (who also co-wrote the film) as former Olympic hero Hope Ann Greggory. Think Kerri Strug turned Tonya Harding. A decade removed from a life-changing Bronze medal, she’s now a foul-mouthed, delusional has-been living in her father’s basement and doing unspeakable things while watching her former self.

Hope eats like crap, curses like a sailor, treats her dad (Office Space‘s Gary Cole) awful and is just generally a terrible person. Yet when her former coach dies, she’s given an opportunity to redeem herself by coaching another rising gymnast. Along the way she’ll date Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch, make fun of the gymnast’s mom played by Cecily Strong, and have the most flat out hilarious, disturbing and crazy sex in recent memory with The Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan.

So does that all work? Continue reading our Sundance 2015 The Bronze review below.

The Bronze gets that ambition medal because it tries so hard to do something almost impossible. That’s create a cohesive tone with elements of a raunch R-rated comedy, feel good sports movie, teen flick and life changing drama. For the most part, the film is unsuccessful at this, but it tries so hard to be something so different, it’s admirable and often incredibly entertaining.

The biggest problem with The Bronze is Hope is so hatable. She perpetrates some sick evil stuff in the movie. Mean stuff, gross stuff, and it’s really not in service of anything except a laugh, many of which miss the mark entirely. From the very first scene of the movie, the audience is either with this film or not.

It doesn’t help that in addition to mean, Hope doesn’t feel particularly realistic. She’s almost a cartoon character in an otherwise realistic world. The female gymnast version of Roger Rabbit. Her actions are abysmal, off-the-wall and lacking motivation. The fact any of it works at all is because Rausch is incredible in the role. Sure her accent doesn’t make much sense and you don’t know why she changed from sweet talking girl to this evil human being, but we live with it because her outside venom is coming from behind sweet eyes. Hope is an intriguing character. We want to know more about her. And over the course of the film, the actress somehow makes Hope’s growth believable. 

Her nemesis in the film is Lance Tucker, an Olympic Gold medalist played by Sebastian Stan. As mean as he looked in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that’s how much fun Stan has with this role. He’s kind of the typical jock douchebag, but there’s a truth to the performance. He’s got good intentions for Hope’s protege and he sees what we see: Hope’s hopelessness.

Later in the film – it’s a bit of a spoiler but we have to mention it – those two have crazy gymnastic sex. This scene is basically The Bronze in a nutshell. It’s absolutely insane. The rings, the uneven bars, the balance beam, name a gymnastics event and Lance and Hope end up having sex like that. Think the Team America puppet sex scene or MacGruber, but with gymnastics. That happens in The Bronze and it’s hilarious as well as memorable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really fit in with what’s happening around it. Just like Hope herself.

For the film’s final trick, Rausch’s script – which she co-wrote with her husband Winston – attempts to transition from a Kenny Powers, Eastbound and Down vibe, to a Rudy vibe, by way of a few pretty big narrative surprises. It’s a big leap that the film has earned because it has been so brash to this point. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ground to cover and the extra time gives the movie pacing issues.

The Bronze may get a gold medal for ambition, but the title is more accurate overall. There are a lot of good things in the movie, but they all feels at odds with each other. Either you take this wild ride and enjoy it for its absolute insanity, or you hate it for those same reasons. I, for one, fell into the first camp.

/Film rating 6 out of 10

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.