I became a fan of Rob Brydon after seeing him doing dueling Michael Caine impressions with Steve Coogan in “The Trip” and its two sequels. Now Brydon is at the center of an ensemble in “Swimming With Men.”
He plays Eric, a CPA who is extremely bored with his life at a big accounting firm. He’s not happy at home, either, because his wife, Heather, has just won a seat on the local council and spends a lot of time with a male colleague who Eric immediately grows jealous of. The only place Eric enjoys himself is at the local pool, where he goes to swim laps a few times a week.
One evening while there, he notices a group of seven men sitting underwater on the bottom of the pool. It turns out that they’re also going through mid-life crises and have created a club at the pool where they practice synchronized swimming (rule #1: no talking about swim club). They convince him to join, he agrees, and we’re off on a fun little adventure.
With its hey-we’re-having-fun spirit, “Swimming With Men” draws favorable comparisons to “The Full Monty,” although there’s no nudity, just a bunch of middle-aged men in swimsuits holding in their stomachs. All of the guys — and their female coach — are perfectly cast. I found myself laughing out loud several times, (along with the rest of the packed audience) enjoying a rollicking good time. It won’t open wide until next month, but when it does, it’s going to have great word-of-mouth. It’s one of my favorites of the year, so I recommend you see it if you enjoy feel-good comedies.
I give “Swimming With Men” a 9 out of 10.
Two important notes I must add:
- I didn’t know any of the other actors with the exception of Jane Horrocks, who plays Heather. I remember her from a 1998 movie called “Little Voice,” in which she played a shy woman with the remarkable ability to imitate famous singers like Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, and Marilyn Monroe. Horrocks originated the part on stage and then recreated it on film in a knock-you-back-in-your-seat performance. She has worked a lot over the last 2 decades, but I don’t recall seeing her in anything else until now.
- The movie’s concept, while lots of fun, is not original. There was a Swedish documentary in 2010 about a real-life group of middle-aged men who took up synchronized swimming, and the French movie “Le Grande Bain” from earlier this year that has virtually the same premise. They were all no doubt inspired by a classic “Saturday Night Live” bit from the 1984 season, in which Harry Shearer played an accountant (yes!) who leaves his job to begin rehearsing with his brother (Martin Short) for the day when men’s synchronized swimming would become an Olympic sport. It was among the best filmed bits in SNL history, and included Pamela Stephenson as Shearer’s wife and Christopher Guest as their coach (in the same makeup and dance moves he used as theater director Corky St. Clair in his 1996 movie, “Waiting For Guffman”)…