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Melissa Rauch falls flat in ‘The Bronze’

Melissa Rauch portrays Hope Ann Greggory in “The Bronze.”
Melissa Rauch portrays Hope Ann Greggory in “The Bronze.” Special to The Bee

The makers of “The Bronze” were so lazy, their solution to every weak character, stupid plot point or uninspired camera shot was to toss out more obscenities. Granted, it’s a little shocking to hear Melissa Rauch, best known for playing Bernadette on “The Big Bang Theory,” toss out the F word with every other breath. That quickly becomes annoying and then incredibly painful.

It’s sad that this weak approach was taken because the film starts with a decent story idea. Rauch plays Hope Annabelle Greggory, a gymnast from a small Ohio town whose courage at a championship meet made her the darling of the sports world.

She’s been living off that fame for 16 years. America’s sweetheart is really an angry, foul-mouthed waste of humanity who seems to find great pleasure in abusing everyone around her. The third-place medal winner gets away with it because of her celebrity status.

That easy lifestyle is threatened when a new gymnastic protege emerges in Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson). Greggory reluctantly becomes Maggie’s coach as a means of getting a large inheritance.

By this point, “The Bronze” has already dug such a deep hole that it can’t rebound. Playing Greggory as such a vile and vicious character is dangerous because the audience must be won back by the finale. That never happens, and the movie ends up mired in a pile of mediocrity.

Rauch has no one to blame but herself since she co-wrote the film. A more seasoned writer would have seen the failings of relying so heavily on the barrage of profanity to hide the movie’s numerous flaws. Profanity is like perfume: A little makes a huge point; a lot leaves you running in the other direction.

She certainly got no help from the novice director, Bryan Buckley. He needed to take a stronger hand in helping Rauch find that fine line between unlikable and redeemable. Buckley allows scenes to drone on to the point they go past boring to being deeply tedious.

There are a few funny moments in regards to being a celebrity. Greggory has her own parking spot in town, eats for free wherever she wants and takes what she wants at the mall. The problem is that these are only fleeting moments that are quickly displaced by more profanity.

There’s nothing original about the supporting cast. Gary Cole is reduced to playing another weak father figure as he bears the brunt of most of the insults. Most of the time, Cole looks like a man in search of a bank to cash his check for being in the movie.

Thomas Middleditch comes the closest to playing a three-dimensional character. He manages to slightly rise above the movie’s lackluster script to bring a touch of warmth to the movie. It’s a touch that gets beaten into submission by all the raunch Rauch puts in the movie.

And that raunch includes a sex scene that is so out of context, it looks as though someone accidentally cut part of a porn movie into the film.

“The Bronze” is the worst sports comedy since “The Benchwarmers.” In more skillful hands, “The Bronze” could have been a winner. Because of its thin script, bland characters and stilted direction, “The Bronze” doesn’t even deserve a participation trophy in the cinema Olympics.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

The Bronze

1/2

Cast: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Haley Lu Richardson, Thomas Middleditch

Director: Bryan Buckley

100 minutes

Rated R (nudity, language)

Opens: Friday, March 18

Check movie times at calendar.fresnobee.com/movies.aspx

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