The Bronze

3 Stars

Comedies that rely on near-unrelenting verbal insults have a special place in my heart-like facsimile. They can be amazingly wrong in their insults, but with the right delivery – and the understanding that the characters delivering the insults are usually in no way sympathetic (at least at first) – they can be shockingly funny. These comedies, though, tend to be driven more by male stars. Think Bad Santa, or more recently Bad Words. Leave it to, of all people, The Big Bang Theory co-star Melissa Rauch to cowrite and star in The Bronze, where the litany of vulgarity comes almost exclusively from her own mouth.

Rauch stars as Hope Ann Greggory, a former Olympic athlete who took the bronze after injuring her foot in competition, then nailing her final competition through the pain. That injury ended her career, and when Hope Ann’s trainer, Coach Pavleck (Christine Abrahamsen) refused to dismiss warnings from her doctors about not trying to compete again too soon, it led to a years-long rift between the two.

Over a decade later, Hope Ann is both a hometown hero and a nightmare. She goes around town with no willingness to self-censor, whether it’s to a random restaurant worker or her father (Gary Cole). She lives at home, taking an allowance from her father, but also stealing money from letters left in his mail truck. The latter situation nearly leads her father to cut her off, but then Coach Pavleck dies. Pavleck leaves a letter for Hope Ann, promising that if she trains Pavleck’s newest Olympic hopeful, Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson), she’ll receive $500,000.

Audiences may have a hard time getting into The Bronze. The only real source of comedy comes from Hope Ann, who’s far too mean-spirited to be likable, and the film doesn’t do much to make itself stand out beyond Hope Ann’s impressive linguistic skills. There is one exception, though: a scene where Hope Ann hooks up with gold-winning Olympian Lance Tucker (Sebastian Stan), which takes full advantage of their gymnastic skills in one of the more explicit (but comedic) sex scenes released under an R rating. “Balls to the wall” doesn’t begin to describe it, but you get the drift.

And yet, The Bronze does have a heart to it, even with regards Hope Ann. For audiences willing to just sit back and take in the film in front of them, The Bronze may not take the gold as a comedy, but it certainly earns some recognition.

The Bronze • Rating: R (for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout and some drug use) • Runtime: 104 minutes • Genre: Drama • Cast: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Haley Lu Richardson, Cecily Strong  • Director: Bryan Buckley • Writers: Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch • Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
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