Review: ‘The Bronze’ Rauch Shines Bright In Dark Gymnastics Comedy

“And she sticks the landing.”

Against all odds, The Bronze (Bryan Buckley’s dark comedy about the twisted world of Gymnastics) was a solid film. Often, critics will make generalizations about a movie before they even see it (it’s happened to us all), and I can say my perception of the film going in was all wrong. Maybe I’m guilty of what most people are, and that’s assuming Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory and Melissa Rauch were very similar. How could our lovely Bernadette play the raunchy ego driven Hope Ann Gregory? If Hope Ann Gregory were to respond to that question, my guess is she would threaten to rip out my throat.

The Bronze tells the story of Hope Ann Gregory (the aforementioned Melissa Rauch, who also co-wrote the script), a fictional gymnast from Amherst, Ohio, who became America’s sweetheart (think Kerri Strug) when she landed a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics despite a significant injury. Fast-forward to today and Hope is a foul-mouthed local celebrity living with her dad (Gary Cole), still basking in her former Olympic glories. Hope eventually take on a local apprentice (Haley Lu Richardson), but with other motives.

Hope’s estranged former Coach Pavleck (Christine E. Abraham), dies and leaves a letter promising half a million dollars if she finishes Maggie Townsend (Hayley Lu Richardson) for the upcoming Toronto Olympics. Hope gets to work with Maggie by instilling a terrible dietary and social regime sure to sabotage Maggie’s chances. Horrified by the wasted potential, Lance (Hope’s ex-flame played by Sebastian Stan), who’s now a coach, steps up and promises Maggie’s mom Janice (Cecily Strong) that he will return Maggie to her former glory. Realizing this would negate her deal with Coach P, Hope changes her tune and starts to coach her the right way. Hayley Lu Richardson (Maggie) is solid as the happy go lucky gymnast who Hope sees as annoying because she reminds her of what she once was. Sebastian Stan (Lance) sells the role of being the sleazeball ex-boyfriend that has it out for Hope. However, Melissa Rauch shines the brightest in this film. Rauch commands the screen as a former gymnast who’s stunted maturity, and foul nature is the source the hilarity in the movie.

The premise of The Bronze, at first,  seems like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit, but in reality, Winston and Melissa Rauch developed a screenplay that’s not only wonderful comedically but certainly has a lot to say about our fame driven society. It’s not hard to envision Hope Ann Gregory going around and demanding free items and being awful because athletes being terrible has become commonplace. Winston and Melissa Rauch create wonderfully rich comedic characters that all play a role in making this film hilarious. Sebastian Stan (Lance) isn’t playing your typical male gymnastics coach; he’s the chauvinistic male coach who’s everything that Hope hates (even though they have slept together). Gary Cole’s Stan isn’t playing the typical “father” figure; he’s more of a meek version of a father figure which is perfect for Hope to push around. Every character in this film plays a small part in why this movie clicks. The only question that I do have is how in the world did they get the idea for the sex scene between Hope and Lance (let’s just say it involves a somersault and gymnastic rings)?

While The Bronze does have it flaws as it meanders towards predictability in the last half of the film, the film is a solid comedy overall and certainly worth your consideration.

The Bronze

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.