Men With Brooms (2002)

Directed by Paul Gross

This movie, Men With Brooms, reminds me of the film Bowfinger. The fundamental idea is good, and because it is you want it to succeed, but it doesn’t quite fulfil its potential.

Of course, where Bowfinger was a great concept, Men With Brooms is much more vague – a Canadian movie about curling. Curling and Canadians, of course, are supposed to be boring, and this is part of the joke as the characters are definitely not dull.

Even that bare bones a notion is a great beginning but, as mentioned, it doesn’t go much further than that. The storyline is a much used one; it’s only the setting that has changed.

But even a much used story can work, particularly given the initial notion of Canada and curling, but it requires a great effort of imagination that in Men With Brooms is lacking.

It continually falls back on the idea that it is Canadian and that this will be enough to get it through.

It isn’t, and not by a long shot. In fact, if anything the film tries too hard to be a Canadian film rather than simply a good film.

Having said that, it also needs to be said that there is a great deal of worth to the movie. It is definitely funny, but the humour starts to flag after a while because it so often resorts to making a joke about being Canadian rather than on strengthening its story.

And the story … A curling guy dies. In his will, he asks an old curling team to reunite and win the trophy (in this case, the Golden Broom). They do, but with humorous antics along the way. Sound familiar?

It may be that the movie is a bit confused about what kind of movie it wants to be. At times, it seems to want to strictly be a comedy. At others, more of a romantic comedy along the lines of Bull Durham. The result is a film that appears to wink at us whenever a Canadian joke (or any joke for that matter) shows up. Compare this to a Bull Durham where the movie could care less whether you laugh or not. The joke is there. If you get it, fine. If not, that’s okay too because the film, at its core, is not about jokes but about the people in the story and the backdrop of baseball which the film clearly loves.

And maybe this is where the movie errs. It doesn’t seem to love curling so much as it loves the idea of it as a great prop for a joke. As a sport, curling is just one of many, no better or worse. But as Bull Durham showed with baseball, it’s not so much the sport as the culture, or life, surrounding it that is interesting. Men With Brooms never quite succeeds in communicating this about curling. At times it comes close but, more often than not, when it does it torpedoes it by making a joke and winking at us.

Still, as said, it’s worth seeing the movie and certainly it’s enjoyable. But while it takes pride in being Canadian and not a Hollywood cookie-cutter movie, it probably would have been wise to defer to some of the restrictions of Hollywood if only to make the film better focused .

© 2002 Piddleville Inc.

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