Forget about that Kerri Strug girl. It was Hope Ann Gregory who became an American hero in 2004. She was the young Olympic gymnast who wowed the world when she blew out her ankle but still hobbled bravely back to the balance beam. She was the one forcing herself past the searing pain to win a bronze medal.
It was an incredible feat. And Hope Ann put Amherst, Ohio, on the map. Her name and her achievement still hang on the welcome sign you see driving into town.
Since then, though, things haven't gone so great. Her comeback was a bust. She still lives at home with her constantly fawning dad. And she's done little more than stretch her 15 minutes of fame out to a decade of free food, sports shoes and other townie entitlements.
But you certainly wouldn't want to point any of that out to her. For if you dared to do so, you'd see her red-and-white-scrunchie-bound blonde hair flounce, watch her icy blue eyes narrow to dagger points, and likely stumble backward as she opened her petite pout and hit you with a stream of foul-beyond-measure curses and insults, obscenities cutting enough to make even the strongest man bleed.
So the people who know her best are utterly dumbfounded when she decides to take on the job of coaching a new Olympian hopeful. Her pupil is a very gifted hometown girl named Maggie who was left adrift with the recent passing of her elderly coach. It's said that this sweet, innocent thing has the skills to go all the way to the top. She could be the best in the world. Which would not only put Amherst in the spotlight again, it could eclipse Hope's achievements altogether.
Which … makes … you … wonder if Hope Ann Gregory really wants to be a girl's mentor. Or something much worse.
The crude, crass and borderline-despicable Hope eventually comes to realize that being foul, entitled and careless of other people's feelings isn't the only way to live. She falls for Ben, the young nice-guy owner of a local gym, (slightly) adjusting her attitudes along the way. (Though nothing can curb her f-bomb-hurling tongue.) Hope does manage to choke out some thanks for her dad trying to make her a better person.
Maggie's mom has a small statue of a waving Pope in her living room. During one of Hope's "exercises" in the gym, Maggie wonders if they're going to pray together. Hope blanches at the very idea, and she gags over another athlete thanking God for a victory.
The highlight of a good week for Hope seems to be throwing on the recording of her medal-winning performance … and masturbating. (We see her movements under her sweatpants.) She disrobes for Ben on their first date, daring him not to have sex with her. (He says he wants to wait for marriage.) She repeatedly reaches for his crotch when they kiss. And she drunkenly propositions two men at a bar, crudely talking about the "raw" sex they can have.
Hope's not kidding. She and a male gymnast strip down and have "gymnastic sex" in her hotel room. They're both nude as they tumble, jump and grunt their way through an array of graphically rendered sex acts.
Coarse and obscene names for sexual anatomy and sexual activities are regularly used. A font of such crudities, Hope Ann pushes Maggie to have sex with a local boy. And we later learn that the girl is impregnated by another coach. Of course there are quite a few shots, some of them leering and from inopportune angles, of girls in skintight gymnast leotards.
When Hope's dad dutifully wakes her early one morning, she punches him full in the face. She angrily shatters his prized coffee mug (one she made for him as a kid). A flashback to Hope Ann's Olympic run shows her injuring her foot with an audible snap. We hear about a suicide.
Crude or Profane Language
Between the dialogue and the music, the f-word count tumbles past 115. There are 20 or so uses each of the s-word and "b--ch," along with a handful of uses of "a--" and "h--." Jesus' name is misused a half-dozen times. And, as mentioned, there are multiple rude and crude references to male and female genitalia ("c--k," "d--k," "t-ts," "p---y" and the c-word among them). Obscene hand motions are made. Hope flips the bird in her dad's direction while mouthing the f-word.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Hope snorts crushed pills and gets bags of marijuana from a local dealer. She uses some of that weed to spike Maggie's protein shake, leaving the young girl red-eyed and dazed. Hope downs a number of mixed drinks, and she tosses back a few beers with Ben. She gets obviously drunk on at least two occasions.
Other Negative Elements
Hope sabotages Maggie's training regimen and is pleased when the heretofore innocent girl starts cursing "normally." Hope rips open letters in her dad's postal truck and steals whatever money she finds. She goads Ben to steal free-food punch cards from a mall's food court.
The Bronze is the equivalent of a one-joke Saturday Night Live skit inexplicably stretched out to nearly two hours.
It jumps the sha—, er, vaulting horse, almost immediately by rubbing moviegoers' faces in vulgar nastiness and meanspirited cynicism about young Olympic stars who get trapped in their 15 minutes of fame. That's the only joke this movie can muster, the only point it bothers to make. There's not a single decent tuck or tumble, and certainly not a stuck landing anywhere to be found on this cinematic mat.
So there'll be no cheering or medals of any color earned, and Kerri Strug is not amused.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Melissa Rauch as Hope Ann Gregory; Gary Cole as Stan Gregory; Thomas Middleditch as Ben; Haley Lu Richardson as Maggie; Sebastian Stan as Lance
Bryan Buckley ( )
March 18, 2016
August 2, 2016