Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sports Flicks: Men with Brooms

My Wife loves me. Of this, I am quite certain.

Image via UNO PARK

As I have written before, the 2002 Canadian film Men with Brooms has been adapted into a television series to air this season on CBC. As a novice curling fan, I am greatly intrigued. I must confess, however, that I had never actually watched the film before tonight. With My Wife's blessing, I bumped it to the top of the Netflix queue so I could watch it before the series starts. She even watched the film with me, bless her heart. The TV series is scheduled to begin Monday, October 4th, 8:30 pm eastern time.

It is, predictably, a highly quirky film. We'll start with the positives...

- It is a very affectionate view of the sport and does a nice job of explaining the basics to the uninitiated.
- The soundtrack is pretty good, including a wonderful rendition of the Canadian folk song "Land of the Silver Birch."
- There are some pretty funny moments - not roll on the floor funny but pretty funny.
- I love the wandering herd of beavers. I'm fairly certain that beavers don't travel in packs and at least the ones in Vermont don't typically wander into town. They clearly have deep symbolic importance within the story. What that importance is, I could not for the life of me tell you.
- I like the main character's name: Cutter. I'm working under the assumption that it was inspired by the Cutters in Breaking Away (a far superior film, of course).
- The film is well cast. I am especially impressed with the casting of Michelle Noldin and Molly Parker as sisters. They're not related but they could pass.

Image via Folio

However, there are problems...

- While the intentions are good, the film doesn't hang together very well. Is it a comedy? Is it a romance? Drama? Inspiring sports movie? what? Not that a decent film can't contain elements of all but this one's spread too thin, not really achieving any of its intended ends satisfactorily.
- The cast is good but maybe needed to sink their teeth into something a bit more substantial.
- I admire anyone who writes, directs and stars in a film but I found Paul Gross uninspiring.

In the final analysis, I'll probably give it a 3 on Netflix, but if I were allowed decimals, it would be about a 2.8. I'm glad I watched it but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to recommend it to someone else.

But that's the film. I think there is room for a decent TV series in there. Telling the story in 23-minute chunks might be just the sort of limitation that Men with Brooms needs. Apparently, the show involves all new characters. Gross's on-screen role is limited to narration and occasional guest appearances reprising his character from the film.

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