Every once in a while a movie like The Bronze slips into theaters. It's a low-budget film with a couple of high-profile stars which took no orders from a studio as its lead actress wrote herself a part. It's pretty refreshing when you see someone be so ambitious and when they stick the landing, you can't help but cheer... or in this case, laugh.
The Big Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch goes all out on defining herself as more than her role on the nerd-driven sitcom with this new film. The Bronze is not family friendly in the least bit. In fact, it pushes its R-rating to the limits the same way Deadpool did earlier this year but Rauch still offers a performance to be laughed at, which in this case, is the goal.
The Bronze finds Rauch's Hope Ann Gregory living a pitiable life as a washed up, one-time iconic gymnast living in her over-loving father's (Gary Cole) basement. She prides herself on dismissing others who admire her with f-word laced encounters. She's the hometown hero, nonetheless, and she wants to keep it that way.
She's also the most outrageous (and sometimes hilarious) character you'll meet this year.
When a young girl by the name of Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson) starts to rise in the local gym, Hope's pedestal is threatened. Nevertheless, circumstances give her one option: train Maggie and help her surpass Hope's own bronze medal at the Toronto games.
Rauch and Richardson do a great job sharing the screen. Hope's overbearing raunchiness sets its sights on Maggie's innocent and energetic teenage charm and breaks it all down only to build it back up. A few moments between the two are cheap comedic gags but there are enough solid laughs to compliment their chemistry. Another chemistry worth noting is between Rauch and Thomas Middlelitch. Middlelitch wasn't exactly given the most admirable role but he swiftly dives into the part of Ben Lawfort, a local in Hope's Ohio town who has the inability to keep his face from twitching. It's one of those things some viewers may have a hard time laughing at but Middlelitch makes it all too easy, nonetheless.
Gymnastics are never truly the focus of The Bronze. There's a few impressive performances but a real gymnast would probably roll their eyes at the film's attempt to convince us these moves are worthy of Olympic gold. That doesn't really matter when the low-budget film does a good job portraying a packed-out Olympic event most of us have only seen on TV.
Where The Bronze may lose some fans is in a ridiculous sex scene between Sebastian Stan's jerk gymnastic coach Lance Tucker and Rauch's Gregory. Now, no matter what your preference, the scene is definitely easy to look at, but it's so over the top and ridiculous that it can pull you right out of the film. The two former gymnasts all but destroy a hotel room with gymnastic moves turned into wild sex positions and it's simply too over the top to be tolerable, even for a ridiculous comedy like The Bronze.
For most of its run time, The Bronze manages to carefully walk the line of tastefully comedic satire and over the top parody, never quite crossing too far into the latter with the exception of the already mentioned sexual encounter. It may be an unpopular opinion, but The Bronze has a few good laughs in it regardless of how crude. A few are truly capable of making one spew their soda on the row in front of them or flip their popcorn bucket over. It would've certainly needed a few more to earn a perfect score, and a few other developments, too, but it sticks the landing, no matter how shaky.
Bottom Line: The Bronze earns its title spot - nothing more but certainly nothing less. A spot on the podium is a spot on the podium. 7.0/10