The Bronze (2016)

 

Released: March 18, 2016. Directed by: Bryan Buckley. Starring: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Haley Lu Richardson. Runtime: 1hr, 40 min.

Written by Melissa Rauch (TV’s The Big Bang Theory) and her husband Winston Rauch, The Bronze appears to rely on the idea that since the 4-foot-11 sweet-natured Melissa Rauch is foul-mouthed and aggressive here, it would be so ironic that it would result in big laughs.

The thing is – it’s not funny, and the way it throws a mix of swear words together never amounts to anything hysterical. Which is disappointing, considering it is a passion project.

Rauch stars as Hope Ann Gregory, a local celebrity who brought back an Olympic bronze medal from Rome to Amherst, Ohio. But though she is from Ohio, she has an accent that’s like a bizarre Chicago and Minnesota hybrid.

She gets whatever she wants in the town – from free food to a reserved parking spot next to her favourite diner. She still always wears her Olympic Team USA tracksuit from 2004 – and after an injury ended her gymnastics career, she’s embittered that her 15 minutes of fame is way behind her.

With her life stalled, her former coach commits suicide. (I know what you’re thinking: She doesn’t commit suicide because Hope is such a b–ch, but because it’s needed to advance the plot.) She requests, in her will, that Hope coach Olympic hopeful Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson) to greatness, and if she does, she will get $500,000.

The Bronze Haley Lu

Not even Haley Lu Richardson’s smile could save this. (Source)

A problem with the film is the fact that Rauch’s Hope Ann Gregory is plainly unlikable. She’s a bratty 30-year-old misanthrope that sincerely acts like she is still 17 years old. The point of the character is for her to be unlikable – but it is never funny.

We first meet the embittered Gregory in an ode to her large ego – in her bed masturbating to the video of her bronze medal win. Her huge ego definitely surpasses her size, and also feels like an ego of a gold medalist – not a bronze medalist. She’s eventually characterized as being scared of being forgotten.

But even with that and a forced love interest, there’s never a moment where where we root for Hope. There was really only one time I liked her on a mild level, when she was teaching Maggie stage presence. She smiles a lot and she is like a different person – which might be why I liked her in that moment.

She’s hard to relate to and she’s mean to her core, a character aspect that doesn’t work for Rauch’s kind demeanor.

The character we’re rooting for is Maggie – depicted as humble and a bit unrealistically innocent. We want her to win because she seems like a genuinely nice girl. Haley Lu Richardson’s performance is super likable and bubbly as the character. Both Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch and Sebastian Stan round out the main cast – but they can’t even save this turd.

A writing choice at the end of the film turned this from simply a bad film to a disaster for me. It felt like a last-ditch effort to make Hope more likable. Character decisions made me think that the Rauch writing pair either didn’t understand their characters or just wanted to rush the ending. Either way, it made the characters feel more like caricatures of their huge egos – or results of bad writing – than actual people we might relate to.

The Bronze bed

Melissa Rauch as a foul-mouthed, bratty bronze medalist in The Bronze. (Source)

The feature has good cinematography (kudos to the only winner here, Scott Henriksen). I liked the gymnastics of it, but we’re treated to more training scenes and not given enough cool scenes when Maggie is actually competing towards the end.

A sex scene between Rauch and Stan is overtly dark, likely to hide the super obvious Cirque du Soleil stunt doubles for Rauch, and quickly edited and a weaker aspect of the cinematography.

But the coitus feels longer than Maggie’s final display of gymnastics. It threatens to take over the rest of the film in terms of memorable raunchiness – which is saying something.

There’s a lot of raunch from the Rauch couple, but I think the only time I even chuckled was when Ben was having a bad twitch. Otherwise, I was questioning why it was billed as a comedy.

The film itself is mean-spirited overall, with Hope’s actions against everyone. But kudos to Rauch for branching out from her sitcom fame and bringing another unlikable, female antihero asshole to the big screen – as they’re so often portrayed by men. But it just isn’t funny, which is particularly disappointing.

It has none of the (slight) charm that worked for Jason Bateman’s Bad Words. I think that worked to a degree because Bateman actually has the comedic ability and sarcastic wit to believably portray a foul-mouthed, grown up spelling bee contestant.

But with The Bronze, Rauch doesn’t sell it. The language is raunchy, but it doesn’t make it funny. She isn’t believable as being foul-mouthed or aggressive – she looks too innocent. It really fails in almost every aspect and it’s a box office disaster for good reason: It sucks.

Score: 30/100

Hop – A film review by Daniel Prinn

Hop

Release Date: April 1, 2011

Director: Tim Hill

Stars: Russell Brand (voice), James Mardsen, Kaley Cuoco

Runtime: 95 min

Tagline: Candy, Chicks and Rock ‘n’ Roll

The creators of Despicable Me give us Hop, a blend of CGI-animation and live-action. While it is a tastier film than Despicable Me, it doesn’t have a better plot, charm, or characters.

E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) is the teenage son of the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) and he will soon have that job passed down to him. Though, he doesn’t want to deliver Easter baskets to the children of the world, he really wants to become a professional drummer. He heads for the city where dreams come true, Hollywood (through a magic bunny hole). Fred O’Hare (James Mardsen) an out-of-work slacker, hits E.B. with his car. The bunny begs if he can stay with Fred for a while, and he reluctantly accepts, in hopes of it being just a dream that he’ll soon wake up from. In the process of them finding each other, they will have to find their own ways to become mature.

Hop is definitely a film that most children can enjoy, and even gave me a few laughs at the age of seventeen. The Playboy Mansion joke was pretty funny. It isn’t all charming, because I really only liked a few characters. I didn’t mind E.B., but his voice is just a little annoying – but he does offer a good message for kids, to follow your dreams and be yourself. Phil is pretty funny, though, he’s a fairly adorable little dancing chick. Fred was okay, too. The extended cameo by Hasselhoff was alright – and there was a nice pop culture reference to Knight Rider for adults, that most kids won’t understand.

The antagonists offered here make some scenes a bit crowded. There’s Fred’s family who doesn’t really believe in him (except his sister, Sam [played by Kaley Cuoco], who believes in him a little); and there’s the three Pink Berets who are the now Easter Bunny’s personal bodyguards, and are chasing after E.B. to bring him home; and then there’s a character who wants to take over as the Easter Bunny, I won’t reveal the character’s name for spoiler alert purposes, but it’s fairly obvious that they’re an antagonist from the get go.

There’s a bunch of silly rabbit play-on-word character names, like E.B. (acronym for Easter Bunny) and Fred’s last name, O’Hare.

The film stars James Mardsen, Kaley Cuoco, Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Tiffany Espensen, Chelsea Handler, David Hasselhoff; and with the voice talents of Russell Brand (which I couldn’t dub a talent, personally), Hugh Laurie, Hank Azaria and Django Marsh (as Young E.B.).

Hop offers a predictable plot, but a fairly good message for children; and many hit-and-miss characters, with some jokes even adults will enjoy. I would have liked to have enjoyed it more, but it was fairly bearable. It’s a little unfortunate that the biggest laugh for me was even before the film began, with two minions from Despicable Me doing a brief hilarious antic. It’s a film that I wouldn’t recommend to go out of your way to see, but it may be worth the watch if you caught it on TV. And it could make for a good Easter basket stuffer if you have kids.

55/100