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Sundance 2015: Raunchy Olympic has-been finishes out of the medals

January 31st, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Mariah Noble and Noelle Johansen

PARK CITY—“The Bronze” is exactly what you’d expect from a mash-up of “Stick It” and any Judd Apatow film: athletic, vulgar and the kind of funny not suitable for the dinner table or the faint of heart.

The raunchy comedy explores the ever-relatable theme of letting go of past glory days and moving beyond the blinding confines of self-absorption.

Director Bryan Buckley and actors Gary Cole and Haley Lu Richardson at the Sundance Q&A. (Ben Hansen photo)

Director Bryan Buckley and actors Gary Cole and Haley Lu Richardson at the Sundance Q&A. (Ben Hansen photo)

Hope Annabelle Greggory was once an American hero for competing and medaling in the Olympics even after spraining her ankle. Years later, she’s snorting over-the-counter sinus medication and masturbating to a VHS tape of her winning moment. She tries to stretch her washed-up fame so she can ignore her seemingly insignificant post-Olympic reality. When a younger, more promising gymnast emerges in her hometown of Amherst, Ohio, she must choose to live in the past or contribute to the future.

Melissa Rauch’s performance as Hope is so removed from her weekly Bernadette on “The Big Bang Theory” that the only way to recognize her is by her signature high-pitched, nasally voice.

The patience and lack of discipline from Hope’s father (Gary Cole) adds a layer of depth to the situation. He wants what’s best for his daughter but doesn’t quite know how to accomplish that. He homeschooled her as a single father, and Hope depends on him for financial support. She treats him terribly, and when he finally stands up to her, the audience cheers.

Though Amherst is a small town, its residents are proud of where they’re from, and harbor a sense of betrayal when one of their own moves on. Hope’s hometown neighbors, along with her father, enable her to continue the sad and dangerous pattern of living in the past by basking in her glory days.

Rare moments when the audience is allowed a more intimate, humane look into Hope’s washed-up, walled-off persona are sandwiched between strings of creatively appalling insults and gestures. It’s hard to keep track of the numbers, but the final F-bomb count in “The Bronze” might give “Wolf on Wallstreet” a run for its filthy money.

It would be unfair to review this movie without mentioning the most memorable, hilarious, borderline-pornographic sex scene between two very agile gymnasts—flips, jumps, handstands—the whole enchilada. Even if you’re appalled by promiscuity, you can’t help but laugh at this scene.

Purchased by Relativity Media for $3 million, “The Bronze” will need a heavy edit to escape an NC-17 rating for its expected summertime release.


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