In the two hours after seeing “The Bronze,” I found myself by random happenstance at or walking by several of its filming locations.
There was the Cleveland Avenue Cemetery, where main character Hope Anne Gregory found herself mourning her former gymnastics coach. Across the street is Hastee Tastee, where she gorged on sloppy joes. Downtown, I strolled past the Captain’s Club, where Hope (Melissa Rauch of “The Big Bang Theory”) threw an indecent proposal at a couple of bar patrons. And then I walked in a side door at Amherst Steele High, the same entrance where Rauch and co-star Sebastian Shaw (“Captain America: Civil War”) argued over the future of a young star-in-training.
It felt strange seeing real and familiar locations overlap with fiction on the big screen, a weird kind of temporal displacement.
“The Bronze” opened Thursday with a limited theatrical run. I caught it at Regal Cinemas Crocker Park, which picked up the flick at the last minute before its debut. Regal at Cobbelstone in Sheffield Township also now is showing the film.
Make no mistake, Amherst is a crucial part of the tone and message of “The Bronze.” You’ll recognize the Quarry Cafe, the South Main railway underpass, and Park Lanes. More importantly, you’ll understand the role small town America has in our country’s collective consciousness and why such imagery is about keeping the best and worst of us grounded.
That said, there is heart buried somewhere deep in the hour and 48 minutes of “The Bronze”… if you can find it.
All too often, Rauch and director Bryan Buckley mistake raunchiness for cleverness, peppering the dialogue with profanity and sexual innuendo. I’m not against some well-used smut, but here it’s a jackhammer.
If you plan to see the movie, be aware it’s centerpiece scene involves two gymnasts in a fantastical and flexible sex scene that leaves nothing to the imagination.
That delivery – rough and classless – doesn’t make Amherst look great. But somehow, despite making Amherstonians bumbling clods with (for some reason) Minnesota accents, the town comes off looking warm and genuine.
Without a deep connection to Amherst, I’d give it a flat C grade. With, it earns a C+.
General audiences seem to dislike the film, which make just $386,328 in its opening weekend. That’s just $331 for each of the 1,167 theaters in which it played, according to Box Office Mojo, a site that tracks movie earnings.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Image released by Sony Pictures Classics Melissa Rauch plays Hope Anne Gregory in “The Bronze,” which is now playing in a limited number of theaters.