The Bronze, about a woman who was an Olympic gymnast as a child, tanked critically and commercially. Not because women aren’t funny, although that’s always an argument always worth revisiting so you can watch some really funny movies (Bridesmaids, Sisters, Election, The Heat, Afternoon Delight, Enough Said, Muriel’s Wedding, Opposite of Sex, Pitch Perfect, Sightseers, Your Sister’s Sister, Death Proof, etc.). The Bronze tanked because women aren’t supposed to be a certain kind of funny. They’re not allowed to be as vulgar or unlikeable as men. It’s as if there’s a crassness threshold that women can’t cross. Call it a crass ceiling. Not even the shrewdly subversive Amy Schumer could break through it. Her Trainwreck script and performance carefully implied drunkenness, promiscuity, and assholishness without getting too far outside the confines of a traditional studio romcom.
Melissa Rauch will have none of that nonsense. Her character in The Bronze, which she wrote, is the character Danny McBride has made a career playing (Foot Fist Way) and replaying (Eastbound and Down) and replaying again (Vice Principals): a vulgar, self-centered, bitter, unpleasant idiot running roughshod over decent people. Rauch and The Bronze wallow gleefully, unrepentantly, profanely, comfortably in the same gutter. When her father — another meticulously underplayed Gary Cole performance — threatens to cut off her allowance, she barks, “If you cut off my allowance, I’m going to have to suck dicks in the CostCo bathroom for money.” But she’s not done. Where Danny McBride might lapse into inarticulate mumblecore, The Bronze’s athletic vulgarity sticks the landing. “Is that what you want, dad? You want me to suck on dirty dicks in a discount warehouse toilet?” If it wasn’t so raunchy, it would be poetic. Rauch twists her face into a mask of appalled rage to sell it. I hold up a little card that says 8.7. But she’s just getting warmed up.