Raunchy comedy treads fine line between funny and mean.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that nothing is sacred in the envelope-pushing dark comedy The Bronze -- whether it's a religious teenager, parental death, the U.S. mail, homeschooling, or the Olympics. This is bold, raunchy stuff, with plenty of swearing ("f--k"s galore); implied masturbation; an extended, graphic sex scene (almost everything is visible, including naked breasts, a butt, and a woman's genital area -- albeit in shadows and from a distance); and people being treated in some pretty terrible ways, including verbal abuse, which is played for laughs. There's also drinking and drug (pot) use. Underneath it all is the idea that even the most seemingly embittered person can find peace and happiness if given the opportunity, but the crude stuff takes center stage.
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What's the Story?
Since winning an Olympic bronze medal in gymnastics in 2004 despite sustaining an injury, Hope Annabelle Greggory (Melissa Rauch) has been the pride of Amherst, Ohio. She was basically raised for the Olympics since she was a young girl; after her mother died, her mail carrier father, Stan (Gary Cole), supported Hope throughout her journey from starter gymnastics classes to glory at the podium in Rome. Consequently, she's accustomed to being admired, coddled, and indulged -- to the point that, years after her Olympic feat, she refuses to hold down a job and still tries to live off her time in the sun. Part of it is that her injury never quite healed, so she couldn't fully move on. But when Hope's ex-coach dies, leaving her with a letter asking her to help up-and-coming gymnast Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) -- and promising $500,000 by the time Maggie reaches the Toronto Olympics -- Hope sees a chance to be rich again and perhaps get what's coming to her. But can she let someone else be more successful than she was?
Is It Any Good?
There's a fine line between mean-spiritedness and bold, envelope-pushing humor, and THE BRONZE struggles to find the right balance. Though the subject matter is refreshingly zany and unique -- and at times is very funny -- some of the laughs come across as such cheap shots (making fun of someone's tic? Come on now!) that they detract from an otherwise spirited film. Still, there's something subversively satisfying about seeing the Olympic ideal that we're all used to (i.e. wholesome, cereal-box-ready athletes) get deconstructed by Rauch, whose Hope takes self-entitledness to the Nth degree. It all comes together late in the movie; too bad it's so hard to shake off the cringe-worthy first act.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Bronze mines comedy out of terrible personal behavior. Does it work? Do you think everyone would find it funny? Why do you think different people laugh at different things?
What does the movie have to say about the pursuit of success and perfection? What role do parenting and the pursuit of athletic excellence play here?
How are drinking and drug use portrayed? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?
How do the characters view sex and relationships? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.
- In theaters: March 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Gary Cole, Melissa Rauch, Thomas Middleditch, Haley Lu Richardson
- Director: Bryan Buckley
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout and some drug use
- Last updated: December 19, 2022
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