Men with Brooms -- ** (out of 5) (2002)
Cast: Paul Gross, Connor Price, Leslie Nielsen, Kari Matchett, Molly Parker
Directed By Paul Gross
About the only thing you probably haven't seen a thousand times before in this extremely derivative sports movie is the sport itself. MEN WITH BROOMS is a comedy centering around curling, a sport originating from Scotland that has a fervent following in Canada as well, and also is an Olympic event to boot. Most people viewing it for the first time will either regard the sport as silly or just plain boring, but the characters in MEN WITH BROOMS would have you believe that the activity is rooted in tradition passed down from generation to generation, and those who wield the stone and brooms are noble men worthy of the utmost respect. Such angling for the mystique of other sports with actual tradition to their society as baseball is to the United States is asinine, of course, and even the most hardcore of curling fans have to have a knowledge of how the game is perceived among the non-believers. With that in mind, most people who might watch MEN WITH BROOMS are either people who are involved in it, or people who find it humorous in and of itself, and thus a worthy subject to build a comedy around.
Writer-director-star Paul Gross plays Chris Cutter, the former leader of a men's curling team that gathers back together when their former coach dies. Upon viewing his videotaped will reading, it was the coach's wish for the men to get together again and play the game that meant so much to him, with his ashes placed within one of the curling stones as they go for the championship. The men are reluctant but feel an obligation to the guy, and soon they are on their way to getting themselves back in shape with a new coach, Cutter's father. Meanwhile, Cutter also has his own personal life to come to terms with, especially when dealing with the love interests of the deceased coach's two daughters.
Outside of the colorful characters, MEN WITH BROOMS is so ordinary in all other areas that the film is rather boring. Although the curling is new as far as the subject of a movie, we've seen this type of film many times before in other incarnations, most recently in MYSTERY ALASKA, and usually the result has been somewhat lackluster, and this is no exception.
MEN WITH BROOMS is really two films mixed together, a sports comedy and a more serious romance. As a comedy, the result is disappointing. The characters are eccentric and likable, but little is done with them of interest other than the curling, and as irreverent as the men behave, they are about as funny as your typical drunken frat boys, i.e. juvenile to the point where only they themselves see the humor in their idiotic behavior. This spills over somewhat into the contrived romantic scenes, most of which only serve to bore us. Do we care which sister Cutter ends up with, if any? Hardly. In fact, we really don't care what happens to anyone because they are cut from pure fantasy, and the final result seems more like a reworking of four episodes of a sitcom than in a feature length film with anything to say.
MEN WITH BROOMS is only recommended for two sorts of people. One are the people who love curling, few they may be, but where else are you going to find entertainment about your favorite sport? The other group are basically proud Canadians who enjoy films featuring things Canadians cherish and make them unique, and although you'll probably recognize the film isn't anything special, the fact that it's a genuine Canadian production provides moments of interest most of us here in the States probably don't get or hold as dear. For everyone else, I would say that you'll probably regard MEN WITH BROOMS to be as exciting as when you see it in Olympic coverage...initially amusing at first glance, but when you actually sit and watch it a bit, it's just too downright silly to consider as a worthwhile form of entertainment.
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