An aggressively unlikeable lead character and some misguided comedic misfires make “The Bronze” (opening in select cities March 18) a patience-testing “comedy.”
In short: With her best days long behind her, former Olympic medalist and small town hero Hope Annabelle Greggory (“The Big Bang Theory” actress Melissa Rauch) is a spoiled celebrity whose star is fading. She reluctantly coaches an emerging gymnastics star (if only to earn some much needed money). Gary Cole, Sebastian Stan, Thomas Middleditch and Cecily Strong also star. (watch the trailer)
The degree to which anyone enjoys this film is directly related to how long they can tolerate this movie’s toxic protagonist. A surprisingly grounded third act is the only reason “The Bronze” isn’t a complete and utter disaster. But by the time “The Bronze” makes any attempt to tell an engaging story, the audience has already had to endure a caustic, foul-mouthed and obnoxiously crass protagonist for far too long.
To be clear, the problem with this film isn’t how extremely off-putting Hope Annabelle is — many great movies have been rooted entirely in similarly deplorable main characters (ie, “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “Young Adult”). That Hope Annabelle is elementally a spoiled, amoral and abrasive character at her core isn’t the problem — the fact that this “comedy” is so transparently an excuse for a cute character to say horrible things is the problem.
This film gives Hope Annabelle free rein to run over every other supporting character with behavior that ranges from completely self-absorbed to flat-out criminal. And everyone just takes it. She is unchallenged by anyone around her. And this is the problem with “The Bronze” – it’s simply a showcase for an abhorrent character to be horrible to everyone around her — and no one pushes back. At a certain point, it just becomes boring to watch a terrible character predictably be terrible with zero consequences.
And there’s certainly a point of diminishing returns with the tsunami of vulgarity that erupts from Hope Annabelle. Hearing Hope Annabelle call people f***ers or c***s pretty quickly loses its shock value after the umpteenth time she throws an f-bomb like a rock. And entirely too many comedic beats are rooted solely in the shallow idea of “audiences will LOVE it when Hope Annabelle calls her fellow townsfolk ‘f***ers.’ ” So much of the supposed ‘comedy’ here is just lazy shock humor — the sheer volume results in the unrelentingly vulgarity to devolve into white noise.
By the time the movie actually takes shape as a dirty rom-com, the audience has already had to weather an unrepentant Hope Annabelle for entirely too long. A little of her goes a long way — and she’s practically on screen for the entire length of the movie. The real shame here is the squandered potential of this film’s core pathos: a fading star clinging desperately for approval. While “The Bronze” occasionally touches upon the factors that warped Hope into a monster – this film is clearly more interested in letting that monster run roughshod over her friends, family and neighbors than in credibly evolving or examining Hope Annabelle to any real depth.
Final verdict: An unconventional plot and potentially intriguing premise are wasted on a movie that correlates vulgarity-per-minute to entertainment value.
“The Bronze” opens in select cities March 18. This comedy is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout and some drug use.