Rob Brydon's Swimming with Men doesn't quite earn its feelgood certificate

by Russell Baillie / 09 March, 2019
RelatedArticlesModule - Swimming with Men movie review

Rob Brydon stars in this all-male synchronised swimming team story.

Ever wanted to see Downton Abbey’s Mr Carson in togs? Well, then, Swimming with Men is the film you didn’t know you were waiting for. Downton’s head butler, Jim Carter, is among the Rob Brydon-led ensemble of cut-out characters in this amiable if slight and curiously glum British comedy about blokes from various backgrounds forming a synchronised swimming team. Why did they do that? Good question. Nothing the characters offer quite explains it, either.

But the movie exists because there had been a documentary, Men Who Swim, about a Swedish men’s synchronised swimming team, who did it for existential Scandinavian reasons. The doco also spawned a French version, Le Grand Bain (you didn’t miss anything, apparently). Across the Channel, the concept has become a movie that might have had the intentions of being a bathing-capped Full Monty, but hasn’t quite the ensemble spark or the underdog appeal.

The movie is dominated by Brydon’s accountant, Eric, who, suffering a mid-life crisis and concerned that his wife (Jane Horrocks) is having an affair, takes his worries down the local teps. There, after offering maths advice to the all-male synchronised swimming team whose performances resemble ball-free water polo, he’s talked into joining. After much dedication and discussion, the all-ages bunch are waving their hairy tootsies above the surface with the best of them. That leads to a contest in Italy, which might have earned the film its feelgood certificate. Unfortunately, there’s a tacked-on happy ending so incredibly naff that the movie nearly drowns in its own syrup.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★

Video: Icon Films Australia & New Zealand

This article was first published in the March 9, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her goldsmith father Kobi
107381 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her go…

by Ken Downie

Filmmaker Andrea Bosshard inherited a creative streak from her goldsmith father Kobi but he also taught her an important life lesson.

Read more
Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?
107383 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?

by Peter Griffin

Around 800 electric scooters arrived in Wellington this week, with local start-up Flamingo and Uber-owned Jump launching at virtually the same time.

Read more
Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company to create a cryptocurrency
107416 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company…

by Peter Griffin

There is a strong incentive for Facebook to own the crypto space, the way it has social media.

Read more
Win a double pass to Yesterday
107340 2019-06-18 09:48:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Yesterday

by The Listener

Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal.

Read more
Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy from China – for now
107337 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z World

Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy f…

by Kelly Chernin

Protesters in Hong Kong have achieved a major victory in their fight to protect their legal system from Chinese interference.

Read more
Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's portrait art
107286 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Arts

Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's por…

by Roger Hall

On an Australian art tour, playwright Sir Roger Hall found that a portrait gallery can be so much more than a snapshot of a country’s social history.

Read more
ANZ boss's departure: 'What was the NZ board doing to monitor expenses?'
Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on their plates
107161 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on…

by Jennifer Bowden

Forcing children to finish everything on their plates sets them up for a bad relationship with food.

Read more