Should I have been that surprised that after I bought my ticket to The Bronze on Saturday, I was ushered into the AMC’s smallest theater room, only to find out that I would be the only person attending that screening? …I suppose not, considering that even *I* had no idea what The Bronze was when I bought a ticket for it…
Do *you* know what The Bronze is? No? I made the decision to buy a ticket for it because I had already seen mostly everything (worth seeing) so far at the theater for this weekend, sans the new Detergent: Blahblurvent movie and not one, but two obviously religious movies (Miracles From Heaven and The Young Messiah). I guess I could have seen Eddie the Eagle, but I’ve kind of made a promise to myself that I would wait until Redbox for something that painstakingly average looking. So I found myself seeing this mysterious movie that I have never heard of called The Bronze. The only thing I had going into it was the R-rating and the poster, which I looked at in thumbnail form for about three seconds on Fandango, and assumed it was a spoof on Tonya Harding or something. Sure, why not?
Turns out it’s actually about gymnastics, FYI. It’s the story of former olympic bronze medalist Hope Anne Gregory, who had a bit of a hero story at the games when she was younger, but ends up doing nothing with her life other than mooching off her hometown Ohio celebrity status in her later years. But once a new young gymnastic prodigy also emerges in her town, Hope gets torn between helping be the new girl’s coach for monetary gain, or sabotaging her in order to stay the only local celebrity.
After watching it, I’m… …not entirely sure why this was a wide release movie? It was written by the star of the film, Melissa Rauch, who I have literally never seen nor heard of in my life before. I’m gonna go ahead and Google her now to understand why this mystery woman was giving a starring role in this movie. Ohhhh, I see. She’s on The Big Bang Theory… That’s certainly a show I don’t watch. Was that why it was wide release? Based on BBT’s star power? It was also under the Duplass Brothers’ name, but only as producers (some guy named Bryan Buckley directed it). It had a recognizable supporting cast, including Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch (Silicone Valley), Cecily Strong (SNL), and the Winter Soldier himself (Sebastian Stan). Still, like, what is this…?
I guess some Wikipedia-ing can answer that a little bit:
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2015. On January 24, 2015, Relativity Media picked up distribution rights to the film. The film was originally scheduled to be released on July 10, 2015, but due to many action and comedy films scheduled for release then, Relativity pushed the film back to October 16, 2015. In September 2015, it was pulled from the schedule. The same month, Sony Pictures Classics acquired U.S distribution rights instead, and it was announced that Stage 6 Films would distribute the film internationally. The film was to be released in a limited release on March 11, 2016, but was delayed a week to March 18, 2016 in favor of a wide release then.
Oh, so it’s some festival darling that a distributor picked up, and then realized that there’s not really a market for a tiny little vulgar film like this, so they didn’t know what to do with it and they just plopped it out there without letting the public know, and it flopped big time? Sound about right? It actually ended up literally being the 5th lowest grossing opening EVER for a film released on over 1000 screens. I’m actually kind of proud that I got to be part of such a historically bad opening. “I was there in ’16… I had a ticket and a medium Dr. Pepper… the day that the 5th worst ever opening went down.” That will be a story I tell my grandkids one day, while they roll their eyes and wish I’d just take them to the zoo like I promised earlier that week. “The floor was sticky, and the seats were worn in… Little did I know, kids, that the next 108 minutes would change my life in almost no way whatsoever!”
Wait, how was the movie itself, you ask? Well, it wasn’t really as bad as its opening would have you believe. I think the extremely poor opening numbers are more indicative of the fact that I’ve never seen a single commercial or trailer for it before buying a ticket to it, which is a sort of weird thing to do, and the rest of the country (completely reasonably) didn’t decide to also walk blindly into an unadvertised film starring a TV actress you may or may not have ever heard of.
It has a few things going for it. The supporting cast, as I said earlier, picks up a lot of the slack. A good chunk of the jokes are actually funny. I actually laughed out loud a handful of times in a lonely theater by myself. There’s a decently explicit and imaginative sex scene between two gymnasts that is legitimately hilarious. I assumed that Rauch and her co-writer thought of the comical potential of that sex scene, and then built a gymnastics movie around that. There’s no real evidence of this, just a thought of mine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the first joke that was written.
What bogs it down, though, is the fact that Rauch is just doing a not-quite-as good impression of Danny McBride. Her performance is so profanity laden that it became annoying. And the simplicity of the profanity often feels like the jokes were written by an elementary school kid who just discovered dirty words. Swearing for the sake of swearing. There’s gotta be some perfect ratio of non-swearing lines vs swearing lines to make the swearing not go stale, right? But I’m pretty sure that having 80% of Rauch’s lines include a forced profanity isn’t a good mix.
But, oh well. I’m not sure any critique of this movie will really matter, consider barely anybody will ever go see it. Maybe one day, once the poster gets adorned across every Redbox in the nation, all of the Big Bang Theory fans out there will notice a recognizable face and give it a rent? I’m not sure how much they’ll like it, though. It’s too crude for the neutered multi-cam sitcom crowd, and it’s not clever enough for the opposite end of the comedy fan spectrum. I’m not 100% sure who this movie is actually for. Which, again, is strange for a movie that Sony thought should play in 1,167 theaters across the country. Did they watch it first? It probably would have had at least a little more dignity if it had stayed a cult indie comedy film. Now it’s got the shame of a giant publicized wide release flop. Which it doesn’t really deserve.