The Magnificent Seven, this is not. In 2004, Hope Annabelle Gregory (Melissa Rauch) became an American hero at the Summer Olympics by winning The Bronze medal in gymnastics. 12 years later, she is still living off of that fame in her hometown of Amherst, Ohio. As such, she refuses to get a job, is constant in emasculating her father (Gary Cole), and is just an overall nasty person.
Debt is piling up, and her father will not have it anymore. After something unfortunate happens to her old coach, Hope is offered an opportunity to coach the new up-and-comer gymnast, Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson), to a nationals appearance in Toronto, in hopes of putting her on the fast track to the Olympics. Complicating matters is the fact that she has to do this, because, otherwise, she misses out on a much needed $500,000. In addition, Maggie is also an Amherst native, and there’s the likelihood of her stealing Hope’s spotlight and status as the town darling. Will Hope sabotage the newcomer’s dreams, or will she take this seriously?
I’m guessing there’s a reason that The Bronze wasn’t marketed too heavily. I can’t remember seeing one TV spot for it, and I imagine that the distribution rights shifting so many times couldn’t have been a help, either. Still, The Bronze fails mostly because of the one thing its supposed to make an audience (of one during this showing) do as a comedy: Laugh.
Well technically, The Bronze is billed as a comedy-drama, and it is a bit of a surprise to see it played pretty straight. This is no Blades of Glory scenario where everything is ridiculous. No, this is, for the most part, generally realistic. The story has been done before, and it’s certainly not completely original. But, the gymnastics backdrop does liven things a bit, and it kind of hits if only because stories exist just like Hope of athletes pushed too hard by family, having too much success too fast, and not knowing how to handle it once the world doesn’t care. However, the ending is a little too “perfect” for my tastes, in the sense that it goes out of its way to villainize a character who has completely valid reasons for doing what is done.
But, The Bronze is still a comedy, or at least attempts to be. Yours truly has heard that this is more of a character study than a true laugh-fest (premiered at Sundance over a year ago), and while I can sort of see that, I would say that it is still pretty clear that co-writers Melissa Rauch and her husband, Winston, are aiming to deliver laughs through Melissa’s lead character. Unfortunately, her Hope character is one of the most unbearable leads seen in a comedy in quite some time. A combination of a grating voice, unfunny crude dialogue, and just flat out bad writing almost made for a recipe for me to walk out. The redemption arc just doesn’t feel earned, either. With the way the character is written, it is better as a supporting character, the “in doses” type, compared to one that is featured in the full movie.
Adding insult to injury is a completely shoehorned love story that comes out of leftfield about halfway through, and the actors in the middle of it struggle to make it work. Gary Cole, a man who over the years has been an asset to many comedies, is extremely underutilized here, though he does his best with bringing an emotional aspect to the father-daughter relationship. Perhaps the brightest spot of the film is Sebastian Stan, who plays a pretty good douchebag, yet is somehow more likable than Hope despite the writing telling the audience otherwise.
Competent story-wise but absolutely uninteresting, devoid of laughter, and a chore to sit through on the lead character front, The Bronze isn’t deserving of any acclaim. Not even worth a nickel or copper medal.
Photo credits go to ustoday.com, letdrama.com, and sonyclassics.com.
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