“The Bronze,” made the last gymnastic movie I saw, which was “Stick It,” appear practically Oscar-nomination worthy. Both movies feature a tough-talking female gymnast who winds up learning a little humility on the road to redemption, as well as resolving some issues, but that’s where the comparisons end. “Stick It” is about a teenager, and “The Bronze,” stars Melissa Rauch (who also wrote this) as a washed-up former Olympian who took a bronze after injuring her foot and won the hearts of America. Perhaps this part was inspired by an occasion in the 96′ Olympic women’s gymnastics when Kerri Strug performed a second vault after injuring her foot, thus helping the team take a collective gold for the first time in history. In any case, with gymnastics, the philosophy that you should remount after falling off the horse should be taken literally. However, Melissa’s character is hanging on to her former fame long past her expiration date: she still lives in her hometown with her doting but increasingly annoyed father (Gary Cole), and spends the bulk of her days scoring freebies from milkshakes to track shoes. She steals, does drugs, and throws tantrums at the slightest provocation: basically, Melissa is Veruca Salt in a warm-up suit and ponytail. Oh, and a mouth like a “South Park” character.
Things turn bleak for Melissa when her father stops her allowance, forcing her to figure out some way of acquiring an income. Fortunately, her former coach commits suicide, and leaves a note promising Melissa that she will receive a sizable chunk of cash, as long as she helps current young hometown star (Haley Lu Richardson) make it to the Olympics. At first, Melissa is (as the soundtrack helpfully points out) a bitch: sabotaging the Pollyanna-like Haley’s training regimen, acting snide to the geeky gym employee (Thomas Middleditch); and so on. The head coach of the women’s gymnastic Olympic team is Sebastian Stan, a cocky former love interest (to put it politely) of Melissa’s, and he becomes her rival for who will ultimately coach Haley. Will Melissa recapture her old passion for gymnastics, and get possibly a few degrees more tolerable as a daughter, coach and girlfriend? Do you even need to ask?
“The Bronze,” is to young gymnastics fans what “Black Swan” was to would-be ballerinas – totally inappropriate to be viewed, unless you happen to be a jaw-droppingly permissive parent. The movie is rated “R,” and unlike some movies, it becomes clear why within the first five minutes. The main character cusses like a truck driver, even after her “redemption,” and there’s a sex scene which answers the question: How might two Olympic medal-winning gymnasts do it? The answer turns out to be a scene that probably took as much choreographing as the gymnastic scenes, but is, alas, like most of the movie, not particularly amusing.