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The Bronze

Year: 2015
Production Co: Duplass Brothers Productions
Director: Bryan Buckley
Writer: Melissa Rauch
Cast: Melissa Rauch, Haley Lu Richardson, Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan

When we first meet Hope (Melissa Rauch), she's sitting in her bedroom masturbating to a video of her younger self fighting through a bad ankle injury to win third place in gymnastics at the 2004 Olympic games.

If it wasn't completely clear from the get go, Hope is quite self-absorbed. Now a washed up has-been living back in her small town, she's is in her late 20s, still at home with her endlessly patient/enabling postman Dad (Gary Cole) and only ever wears the same aviator shades and her victorious track suit. She makes a living stealing money out of letters in her Dad's postal van and trading on her former glory around town, claiming freebies at various food outlets even if she has to give the underpaid dolt behind the counter the sharp edge of her tongue to make it happen.

Hope's an abusive and spoiled bully to everyone around her, issuing seething and sarcastic obscenities through her pinched mouth at everyone who tries to be friendly or understanding, and you'll love her from the first minute if only for her unapologetic turn of phrase (sample; 'I'll f#%k with whoever I want wherever I want. I'll f#%k with them so hard I'll rip their taints in half.')

But there's a shadow on the horizon for Hope in the form of the endlessly perky and sprightly Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson), an up and coming gymnastics wunderkind from Hope's own small town with the eye of national selectors and stardom beckoning.

When Hope's former trainer leaves a huge sum of money to Hope in her will – as long as she agrees to train Maggie to victory – the stage is set for everyone's lives to change. As you've no doubt decided, the premise is nothing new. From Hope's Dad to the sweet natured Ben (Thomas Middleditch from TV's Silicon Valley) and especially Hope herself, the world is going to be turned upside down by their shared adventure.

But Rauch's cat among the pigeons presence is the selling point for the whole film. Among Ben's endearing, bumbling eagerness, Maggie's boundless smiling energy and Hope's colleague-turned-rival Lance (Sebastian Stan) the twangy accent spitting profane abuse from under Hope's huge blonde fringe is like a semi trailer through a genteel dinner party. Comedienne Rauch looks like an angry pixie and swears like an angry sailor, and nobody is safe from her sarcasm.

After wowing the crowds at 2015's Sundance, the litmus test for the comedy is that even if you see it in a theatre with hardly anyone around there are still plenty of laughs and at least a couple of deep belly laughs. There's nothing edgy or dramatic about the premise, but with Rauch (who wrote the script) at the wheel there doesn't need to be.

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