Men with Brooms (review)

A Mildly Well-Thrown Rock

Now that the Olympics are over, if you need more curling, you’re out of luck unless you live someplace like Minnesota or Manitoba. Or if you’re truly desperate for more of the game, you could check out the world’s most famous movie about curling. True, you’ve probably never heard of Men with Brooms, but that tells you something about how many movies about curling there actually are.

Also: This is suitable for desperate Paul Gross fans, because the man is a god, even in extremely silly movies like this one. And he wrote and directed it too. Oh, the talent. *swoon*
Perhaps I do need to institute a yellow light for DVD reviews, because this good-natured but deeply goofy flick is right on the cusp between “see it” and “skip it.” On the one hand, it’s a Canadian movie about curling, so points for originality and cultural pride; and for the nonsports fan, there just ain’t enough Paul Gross going around ever (see above). On the other hand, almost all of those points for originality come back off, because — seriously, screenwriter dudes? (who also include John Krizanc and Paul Quarrington; I don’t wanna shortchange those deserving credit… or blame) — we can see it all coming from the opening scenes. I mean, everything.

See, Paul Gross is the prodigal small-town boy returning home after having left his curling captain in the lurch and left the curling captain’s lovely daughter standing at the altar. He returns for — oh, you guessed it! — the funeral of the curling captain, who has had, for his second to final wish, his cremated remains entombed under the handle of a curling stone. His final wish is, naturally, for the old curling gang to reunite and, led by Paul Gross, win one last tournament for a dead old man. And because Paul Gross has been living with some major curling guilt all this time — the lady left at the altar doesn’t really seem to bother him so much — he’ll do it, by gum!

By this point, you already know what will happen with the goofball curling team (like the one guy who’s desperately trying to get his wife pregnant), with Molly Parker (The Road, The Wicker Man) as the sister of the gal Paul Gross stood up all those years ago and who’s had a thing for Paul Gross (for who does not) lo these many years, with Leslie Nielsen (Scary Movie 4), as an earthy old coot (Paul Gross’s crotchety old dad), and so on. Is there a fancy-schmancy star asshole curler as the opposition to highlight how down-to-earth Our Dubious Heroes are? You betcha. Is there a ridiculous curling announcer that you just know Gross would have loved to cast Fred Willard (if he were Canadian, that is)? Sure. I was sorta surprised to come across so many fart jokes, so much slapstick, and too many sitcomish antics along the way… but then it was part of the point of my one-woman Canadian culture exchange program to learn something of my neighbors to the north, and now I’ve learned that they can be just as juvenile as my fellow Americans.

As a director, Gross at least doesn’t try to oversell it: he has a cheeky light hand, especially when it comes to the few unexpected moments, like the strange bit involving a possible omen featuring confused beavers. And I did learn to appreciate curling as a combination of “snooker, poker, and free-face rock climbing,” as one character describes game. So it’s not a total loss.

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
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