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Gymnastics comedy ‘The Bronze’ celebrates a washed-up Olympian

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The Bronze

One and a half stars

The Bronze Melissa Rauch, Haley Lu Richardson, Gary Cole. Directed by Bryan Buckley. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.

The stereotype of a Sundance movie is an earnest, plaintive indie drama about existential angst, but The Bronze, which premiered in competition at the 2015 film festival, is proof that not even Sundance is immune to crass, predictable Hollywood-style comedies. Co-written by The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch and her husband, Winston, The Bronze is the story of washed-up Olympic gymnast Hope Ann Greggory (Rauch), a foul-mouthed, unpleasant, self-centered jerk whose existence still revolves around her 2004 bronze-medal win. Hope’s life starts to turn around when she’s forced to coach a promising young gymnast (Haley Lu Richardson) from her Ohio hometown.

Hope’s journey to becoming a better person is tiresome and obvious, and it’s hard to invest in the redemption of someone so patently awful. The primary mode of humor in the Rauches’ screenplay is excessive profanity, but the novelty of seeing a Mary Lou Retton type swear profusely wears off quickly. The movie is smugly self-congratulatory in its efforts at both edginess and sentimentality, while succeeding at neither. Aside from an amusingly over-the-top sex scene, nothing in The Bronze is as shocking or as funny as it’s made out to be. It’s as desperate and empty as the life of its protagonist.

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