The Bronze

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The perfectly serviceable premise of the sadly underdone comedy “The Bronze” is that a former gymnast from Amherst, Ohio, is still pathetically milking the brief, minor Olympic fame she earned in Rome in 2004, swanning around Amherst as if the Games happened yesterday (and as if she placed better than third). The film begins with the young woman in question pleasuring herself while she watches the video of her performance, so you have some idea of what you’re in for: dirty, potentially outrageous humor, and possibly a lot of instances where you’re supposed to laugh just because it’s raunchy.

The girl, Hope Annabelle Greggory, is played with go-for-broke, foul-mouthed commitment by Melissa Rauch (from “The Big Bang Theory”), who co-wrote “The Bronze” with her husband, Winston Rauch. An injury took Hope out of the gymnastics business shortly after Rome, and she’s been bitter and nasty ever since, mooching off her indulgent doofus of a father (Gary Cole), snorting crushed-up allergy pills, and frequenting any local business that still gives her discounts as thanks for the glory she brought to Amherst.

When her old coach dies, she stands to inherit $500,000 … but only if she coaches another Amherst girl, Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson) through her own Olympic trials. Maggie is excitable and naive, which annoys the saturnine and promiscuous Hope, and she is also potentially Hope’s replacement in the hearts and minds of Amherstians, which would obviously be unacceptable. On the other hand, that $500,000 sure would be nice.

Directed by TV adman Bryan Buckley (his first feature), the movie follows a familiar path of quasi-redemption for the humorously despicable character, along the lines of “Bad Santa,” “Bad Teacher,” or any of the other films about poor role models giving their charges terrible help. The problem isn’t the predictability, it’s the sloppy way the changes are brought about. Hope’s drug addiction disappears suddenly from the story once it’s no longer needed. She switches from sabotaging Maggie to helping her without any real decision-making, and without any of her sabotage ever really being funny. She mocks the twitchy gym owner, Ben (Thomas Middleditch), then softens for no reason (and why’d he ever like her in the first place?).

A creatively acrobatic sex scene between Hope and fellow medalist Lance Tucker (Sebastian Stan) is a high point, and there are deep, vulgar laughs sprinkled throughout the film. It’s a so-so comedy that feels like a first draft, an opportunity wasted. Tighten it up and you’d have beautiful gold rather than shameful bronze.

C+ (1 hr., 55 min.; R, pervasive harsh profanity, vulgarity, some strong sexuality and nudity.)

Originally published at GeekNation.