Over 9 seasons, “The Big Bang Theory” has become one of television’s most popular comedies. Surviving the 2007 Writer’s Strike during its freshman season, the show benefits from a strong ensemble cast and sharp writing. Playing the annoying but endearing Sheldon Cooper, Jim Parsons routinely is nominated for awards, even taking home a Golden Globe for his performance as the theoretical physicist.
In later seasons, actress Melissa Rauch, who plays Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, was promoted from recurring character to series star. Besides his mother, Bernadette has been the only woman able to tame Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), the M.I.T. graduate and aerospace engineer who lacks a doctorate.
Rauch has earned plenty of TV credits, including the HBO original series “True Blood,” and she now is poised to make a big screen splash. The actress plays the lead in “The Bronze,” a dark comedy that made an impression at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Rauch wrote the screenplay with her real-life husband Winston.
“The Bronze” uses noteworthy gymnast Keri Strug as a jumping-off point. In 1996, Strug was a member of “The Magnificent Seven,” the nickname given to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. Hobbling on an injured foot at the Atlanta games, Strug made a vault and landing that became a signature Olympic moment.
In the film, Rauch plays Hope Annabelle Greggory, an Olympic gymnast who can’t get her life together. In her heyday, Greggory competed with an injured foot, earning a bronze medal for her efforts. Ten years later, she hasn’t matured or moved on with her life. She still lives in her father’s basement and wears the warm-up suit from her Olympic days.
Foul-mouthed and almost intolerable, Greggory finally gets a chance to make some real money. In his will, a former coach requests that she train Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson), an upcoming gymnastics prodigy. If Hope agrees, she will get a sizeable cash payout, but she doesn’t want anyone stealing her Olympic thunder.
On “The Big Bang Theory,” Rauch honed her comedy chops to a fine point. When dealing with husband Howard, for instance, she can morph from gently sweet to volcanically vocal in just an instant. “The Bronze” lets her push the envelope even further as spews a long string of profanity. The print shown at Sundance also featured an incredibly racy and funny bedroom scene.
Melissa Rauch is a talented actress and it’s good to see her expanding her body of work. Fans can hear her next in “Ice Age: Collison Course” as the voice of Francine, a female sloth with a high-pitched voice.
“The Bronze,” rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout and some drug use, opens in theaters on March 18.