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

Ian McEwan confronts the biggest mysteries of life in Machines Like Me
105820 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Books

Ian McEwan confronts the biggest mysteries of life…

by Charlotte Grimshaw

Ian McEwan’s tale of human-robot love links emotional and artificial intelligence in intriguing ways, writes Charlotte Grimshaw.

Read more
Is chemical residue on fruit and vegetables worth worrying about?
105778 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is chemical residue on fruit and vegetables worth…

by Jennifer Bowden

The chemical residues on fruit and vegetables are not dangerous, but rinsing is still advisable.

Read more
Tech Week: Tech no substitute for human kindness in healthcare
106277 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Tech

Tech Week: Tech no substitute for human kindness i…

by Peter Griffin

A three-month trial at Christchurch Hospital saw remarkable results.

Read more
How Auckland Museum's sustainability journey began on the rooftop
106248 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Planet

How Auckland Museum's sustainability journey began…

by Ken Downie

Until recently, the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s buildings were highly dysfunctional, says John Glen, the museum’s head of building infrastructure.

Read more
Australia's remote islands home to 414 million pieces of plastic pollution
106295 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Planet

Australia's remote islands home to 414 million pie…

by Noted

More than 230 tonnes of plastic including straws, bags and toothbrushes found on Australian islands.

Read more
Parliament bullying: Mallard urges rape victims to seek support
What drives 'lone wolf' terrorists? And how can we prevent future attacks?
106117 2019-05-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

What drives 'lone wolf' terrorists? And how can we…

by Devon Polaschek, Maryanne Garry and Joe Burton

Violent extremists are often depicted as “lone wolves”. But this belies the broader psychological, social and digital contexts in which they act.

Read more
Counterterrorism experts on why we must engage with online extremists
106123 2019-05-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Counterterrorism experts on why we must engage wit…

by David Hall

Seeing an NZ flag flying at a neo-fascist rally in Germany prompted David Hall to ask why violent radicalisation was affecting even his fellow Kiwis.

Read more