On Big Bang Theory we get to see Melissa Rauch mine comedy gold showing attitude and occasionally questionable judgment seemingly unexpected from the adorably squeaky Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. In The Bronze, Rauch takes some of those bad girl hints and ups the nastiness as Hope, a former gymnast who’s fallen on hard times while hanging onto that last ounce of glory.
As we see in the film, America’s golden girl isn’t so gold. While her determination to compete after suffering an injury in the Olympics earned her a bronze and all kinds of public attention, that same injury essentially ended her career, and unable to move forward or come to terms that the only life she’s known is no longer an option, Hope is caught in arrested development. She’s a foul-mouthed pixie, using her celebrity status to snag free food court benefits and rifling through her postman father’s (Gary Cole) mail truck for birthday money in other people’s cards when he’s not looking. Essentially, she’s Bad Santa’s Willie T. Stokes in pint-sized form.
More troubling to Hope is that her star is about to be eclipsed by a new fresh-faced hopeful training for the Olympics in her own hometown. Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) sees Hope as an inspiration, while Hope sees Maggie as a threat. But when their former coach passes, an opportunity arises. A letter from the coach promises that a significant sum of money will be Hope’s if she agrees to train Maggie through to her Olympic tryout cycle.
Begrudgingly Hope agrees, receiving help from gym assistant Ben (whom she refers to as Twitchy due to his facial ticks). Feeling that all she has to do is get the girl to her tryout, Hope sets out to sabotage Maggie, feeding her countless calories, introducing her to a young boy she likes and encouraging her to curse more. The last nail in the coffin is getting her stoned before an Olympic official (Sebastian Stan) enters the picture, and threatens to take Maggie away seeing the damage Hope has done. Realizing she may not be able to complete her goal, Hope has to do some fast talking to keep Maggie under her guidance.
And thus the road to redemption begins. Hope begins to bond with the young gymnast, starts to let down the walls with a smitten Ben and begins to find herself again as a coach. But this path is not meant to be easy for Hope and when several obstacles get in the way of her happiness, some growing up is required.
Rauch penned the film with her husband Winston, and the Bryan Buckley directed film received plenty of attention at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, with an especially humorous gymnast sex scene being the buzz of the festival. While toiling in the same type of humor as the aforementioned Bad Santa, The Bronze may not be for everyone. Yes, there are plenty of real life gymnast cameos, but the non-PC humor may take some by surprise. But The Bronze does medal as a passably enjoyable comedy — maybe not reaching for the gold, but definitely fitting of its title.
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Posted by AC