I’m not entirely sure when I personally took notice of the Redemption Sports Movie, but I’d say it started with Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks”, although it’s reasonably certain the genre goes way back. The Canadian movie “Men With Brooms” is as standard a Redemption Sports Movie as you’ll find, but that in itself isn’t a bad thing, since most RSM provides plenty of laughs and heartfelt moments. This, despite the fact that most RSM movies are also heavily clich’d, wholly predictable, and by movie’s end it’s guaranteed everyone who is supposed to love someone has loved that person, and all the bad guys get their comeuppance.
“Men With Brooms” stars Paul Gross (TV’s “Due South”) as Chris Cutter, a prodigal son who returns to his small hometown 10 years after leaving it, when his old curling coach dies from a stroke. In his video will, Cutter’s coach’s last request is that his students reform their team and compete in a local, but prestigious, curling tournament. Cutter and the other 3 former teammates agree, but since they haven’t done any curling for 10 years, they’re a little rusty. It’s up to Cutter’s estranged father (Leslie Nielsen) to lend a hand. That is, if the old coot can leave his ranch, where he’s growing shrooms in the back room.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you that “Men With Brooms” has anything, besides the sport of curling, that you might not have seen before. Curling isn’t much of a sport in the States, but I’m told it’s a big deal up north. I guess it ranks right up there with hockey? People in the film seem to take it pretty seriously.
As the title of the genre suggest, Redemption Sport Movies requires our hero to have something in his past, involving the sport that he’s passionate about, that he isn’t proud of. Of course the upcoming Important Game will provide a backdrop for his redemption. (See the English soccer film “Mean Machine” for more info on this.) In this case, it’s going up against a vain curler nicknamed “The Juggernaut”, who employs professional cheerleaders (!) and enters arenas with a fireworks show. (Are all of these things allowed?)
In an attempt to distinguish the movie from other films in the genre, director and co-writer Paul Gross has made a fairly successful attempt to give his characters their fair share of attention. One of the friends is in a loveless marriage with Kari Matchett (“Cube 2″); another is a drug dealer who owes money to the mob; and the third is desperately trying to get pregnant with his wife, which means they’re having sex whenever her biological clock ticks.
As the lead, Paul Gross’ Cutter has a somewhat convoluted relationship with the two daughters of his old coach. Ten years ago he left one of them at the altar, and the younger sister (played by Molly Parker) has been holding a torch for him since they were “drinking buddies.” Being that a pretty woman is hot for him but unable to say it, Cutter is of course clueless until the moment before the Third Act, when all secret feelings and unspoken emotional baggage come into the light and everything is resolved, just in time for the Big Game which will take up all, or most, of Act Three.
“Men With Brooms” is sometimes funny, but not funny enough to qualify as a Comedy. It’s not romantic enough, or really dramatic enough, to qualify for those classifications either. But as “Mean Machine”, the “Mighty Ducks” movies, and the “Major Leagues” films can attest to, Redemption Sports Movie works best as a comedy-drama. “Men With Brooms” has just the right combinations of both comedy and drama, but not enough of either to stand out too much.
Although I do have to wonder why director Gross included some unnecessary vulgarity and some gratuitous nudity. The film is Rated R, but it could have easily been a PG-13 film. If all the “F” words and flashes of male butts were excised, “Men With Brooms” would still be the exact same film. Filmmakers in the States sometimes have fits about how the MPAA (the board that rates movies in the States) functions, but sometimes filmmakers themselves are clueless about the audience for their movie. “Men With Brooms” is ultimately such an innocent film that it boggles the mind why the filmmakers would make it so difficult to qualify it for family viewing.
I’ve always liked Paul Gross, and was sadden that his CBS TV show “Due South” was cancelled many years ago. Gross is an affable enough fellow, and his role in “Men With Brooms” is probably a bit hindered by his co-writing and directing chores. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun except for Gross, who was probably thinking about the next shot instead of convincingly yukking it up with his co-stars. For much of the film Gross’ Cutter looks too serious, especially for such an unimportant film like this one.
Like most Redemption Sports Movie, the sport itself isn’t really all that important. Curling is an Olympic sport (or at least I remember seeing it in the Olympics a few years back), but most people in the States have never heard of it. The film uses two Air Force characters to represent the American view when it comes to the sport; these two guys have no idea what’s going on, and can’t see what all the excitement is about. I share in their confusion. Then again, I probably couldn’t lift a 40-pound rock and throw it down a sheet of ice either, so my ability to appreciate the sport is neither here nor there.
Paul Gross (director) / Paul Gross, John Krizanc, Paul Quarrington (screenplay)
CAST: Paul Gross …. Chris Cutter
Connor Price …. Brandon Foley
Leslie Nielsen …. Gordon Cutter
Kari Matchett …. Linda Bucyk
Molly Parker …. Amy Foley