Review by MovieManMenzel
Insert some silly olympic gold pun here.
After Whiplash opened the 2014 festival, I knew that no opening night film in 2015 would receive the praise and love that Whiplash got last year. With that being said, the gymnastic comedy The Bronze kicked off the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and per usual it premiered to a packed house at the Eccles Theater on Thursday the 22nd.
The Bronze tells the story of Hope Greggory (Melissa Rauch), a washed-up small-town hero who can’t get over her bronze medal win at the 2004 Olympic Games. After 10 years of trying to keep her 15 minutes of fame alive, Hope learns that the coach who made her into a star has passed away. It isn’t too long after the coach’s passing that Hope is offered the deal of a lifetime.
It is said in the coach’s will that Hope will be rewarded a half-million dollars if she coaches Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson) and gets her into the Olympics. Reluctant to give up being Amherst, Ohio’s only hero, Hope gives Maggie a chance but it isn’t long before Lance Tucker (Sebastian Stan), an old flame and competing gymnastic coach, wants to take Maggie from her. Now Hope must put on her game face in order to prove that she is the only person who could and should be Maggie’s coach.
Written by Melissa and Winston Rauch, I went into Bronze not knowing what to expect from it. The premise listed on the Sundance website and IMDB were both very vague but still left me curious to see what Melissa Rauch was capable of in the film world. After seeing Bronze, I can safely say that I would be very accepting of seeing Melissa Rauch in more films, but probably not ones that she had her hand in writing. I realize that may sound harsh but let me explain.
I genuinely wanted to like this film and in certain spots I really did. The biggest issue, however, was the script — which pains me to say, since I know that Melissa and Winston were so passionate about it. The overall film just feels like this one trick pony depending so much on what shocking thing Hope is going to say next. What is even stranger about that is that sometimes her shocking tirades are really funny and raw but at other times just fall flat. I would honestly have to say that the script is very disjointed and becomes so predictable, clichéd, and mainstream in the final act.
The moments that didn’t work — which were honestly about 30% of the time — were because the script was trying too hard to repeat the same joke. Not only did this occur several times but there were other scenes that didn’t fit or went on too long. I really felt like Melissa and Winston couldn’t decide if they wanted to write a unique indie comedy or a typical Hollywood comedy. There are several scenes, including an overly-long, unfunny, and unnecessary gymnastic sex scene, that felt like Melissa and Winston just watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall one too many times.
As for the other 70% of the time, there are some great funny moments throughout the first two acts of Bronze as well as a pretty likable love story between Rauch’s Hope and Middleditch‘s Ben. There is also one scene in particular that really stood out above all else. Oddly enough, it is not a comedic scene but rather a dramatic one between Hope and her father Stan (played by Gary Cole). This scene happened to be the best moment of the film in my eyes, and the reason why it worked so well is because it broke up the constant comedy routine and gave the film some real drama.
Needless to say, I was really impressed with Rauch branching out and playing something other than the nerdy Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory. These two characters are polar opposites. Her character Hope, however, did remind me of Jason Bateman’s Guy Trilby from 2013’s Bad Words. Both of the main characters are assholes but you just can’t help but like them for some odd reason. Honestly, I can’t really knock anything about Rauch’s performance because I think she was pretty damn solid in the film and carried it extremely well; Hope is just a truly relentless character that can’t let go of the past. I thought she did a great job being a total bitch, especially when she went head to head with Haley Lu Richardson. Those scenes were definitely some of the film’s most comedic moments.
My other big complaint about The Bronze is Sebastian Stan as Lance Tucker. I can’t decide if it was Stan, the character itself, or a combination of the two. Regardless of what it was, Lance Tucker is your typical mainstream comedy villain and everything his character did just irked the shit out of me. Every moment that Stan was on-screen — including that stupid sex scene — did nothing but create familiar dramatic moments that were incredibly unnecessary and predictable. There was a good central story here as well as a decent love story but for some reason the Rauchs’ believed that they needed to add in this character and create another story about jealousy and revenge. The film already had enough going on and it didn’t need this storyline or character.
In conclusion, even though many festival-goers found this to be comedy gold, I sadly wasn’t doing cartwheels when I walked out of the premiere on Thursday evening. I cannot deny for a second that were several really funny moments in Bronze but it just seemed for every thing that worked there was something else that didn’t. I spent the entire time watching this film struggling to decide what to make of it because I kept wanting to love it but the script kept going in directions that made me roll my eyes or ask myself “why?” over and over again. I will once again say that I am absolutely delighted to see Rauch on the big screen and truly hope she gets more lead roles.
Bottom Line: The Bronze doesn’t earn the gold but does a decent job at earning the bronze. Sorry, I had to.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating is a 6 out of 10.
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