Movie: The Bronze (2015)

Andrew Dice Clay once made a movie, Dice Rules, that had the rare distinction of not only being one of the few films ever to receive a NC-17 but, shockingly, to do so only for foul language.  I have never seen that Andrew Dice Clay concert film, nor do I ever intend to, but I suspect the R-rated The Bronze may give it a run for its money.

Melissa Rauch stars here, and her character might say less than a dozen lines in total that don’t have profanity in them.  And it isn’t the profanity itself that is shocking on its own; otherwise, I probably would have turned off the movie in its first 15 minutes. 

Instead, it is the surreally offensive phrases those words are part of.  For example: when her father suggests she look for a job, her long reply posits the only possible employment for her would be prostitution, capping it off with, “Do you want me to suck on dirty dicks in a discount warehouse toilet?”

Rauch’s character is a stunted woman-child forever coasting on the perks her hometown still tosses her way as acknowledgement for her bringing home Olympic, um, bronze for gymnastics.  I’d say what is more impressive than the medal is that she tore her Achilles tendon while in competition, but still did the parallel bars.

By peaking so early, Rauch is forever stuck in that moment of Olympic glory and she still gets off on it.  And I mean that literally, as we watch her in a seriously squirm-inducing moment right at the beginning.  She also steals money from random envelopes yet to be delivered by her postman dad.

This is a deeply unlikeable character, yet Rauch manages to make her fascinating to watch as she stomps all over this podunk town while wearing her Olympic jacket, parking in her designated curbside parking spot in a nearly abandoned downtown.  She’s this small pond’s biggest fish.

Except there is a new little fish who just might steal the crown one day.  Haley Lu Richardson is an up-and-coming gymnast being cultivated by Rauch’s former trainer.  When that trainer commits suicide, Rauch stands to inherit a half million dollars…if she coaches Richardson to get to the Olympics finals in Toronto.

At first, Rauch does everything she can to undermine this challenger to small-town glory supremacy, only to eventually coach her in earnest.  Both actresses here have ace comic sensibilities, and I love how Richardson milks everything she can from a scene where she unknowingly consumes a drink with a staggering amount of cannabis in it.

The plot takes a less predictable path than I would have expected from this kind of thing.  Although outrageous, the humor is largely within the bounds of what could happen in the real world.  One lamentable exception is a literally acrobatic sex scene that becomes farce. 

I recommend The Bronze, though I’m not sure who I would recommend it to.  It is extremely profane but also deeply funny.  It has some heartfelt scenes but never gets maudlin.  Probably the most significant takeaway I have from this movie is I was so shocked at most of the material from Rauch’s mouth, that I didn’t laugh at the time, but I suspect I will if I ever watch it again.

Dir: Bryan Buckley

Starring Melissa Rauch, Haley Lu Richardson, Gary Cole

Watched on blu-ray