Review: SWIMMING WITH MEN Is Fun But Too In-Sync With The Formula

FIRST IMPRESSION

Swimming with Men has an interesting premise and a compelling lead in Rob Brydon, but is too formulaic to be more than passive entertainment.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Swimming with Men is a new film by director Oliver Parker and starring British comedian Rob Brydon. Inspired by a true story, it is about a man who, suffering a mid-life crisis, joins an all-male group of middle-aged amateur synchronized swimmers.

For a movie so directly about pushing boundaries, this plays it too safe. It adheres to tried-and-true tropes far too many times, ultimately becoming predictable. The film also seems too afraid to be offensive in any way. It feels very sanitized as a whole, and as such, some of the believability is lost.

Additionally, the movie has too many subplots that are underdeveloped. The main underdog story (rightfully) takes up a majority of the runtime. This comes at the expense of some of the other storylines, though, such as the protagonist’s marriage or some of the supporting characters’ personal lives.

swimming with men performance
Rob Brydon as Eric, Adeel Akhtar as Kurt, Daniel Mays as Colin, Jim Carter as Ted, Rupert Graves as Luke, Thomas Turgoose as Tom, Ronan Daly as New Guy, and Chris Jepson as Silent Bob in Oliver Parker’s SWIMMING WITH MEN. Courtesy of Sundance Selects. A Sundance Selects Release.

That being said, the movie still manages to be thoroughly enjoyable. The runtime is short and the pace breezy, which helps the film maintain the audience’s interest. The script also contains quite a bit of comedy, which, for the most part, was quite funny. It is of the dry British type, though, so if you aren’t a fan of that style, you may not enjoy the movie.

The characters are also quite likable. Although not all of them are fully developed, they function well together as a unit, which is what the film needs most. Their chemistry and group dynamic is where it needs to be. It would have been nice if some of the more interesting supporting characters were expanded even further, though.

 

swimming with men brydon
Rob Brydon as Eric in Oliver Parker’s SWIMMING WITH MEN. Courtesy of Sundance Selects. A Sundance Selects Release.

The actors all do a solid job in their roles too. Even though the premise may sound like it lends itself to a large ensemble, Rob Brydon absolutely steals the show. He is perhaps one of the funniest British comedians of all time, and he brings that charm and wit to the movie. He needs to get even more leading roles in the future. Thomas Turgoose and Adeel Akhtar are both standouts in the supporting cast.

The film is impressive on a technical level as well. The cinematography is of a surprisingly high quality for a comedy. Particularly impressive are the swimming sequences. The movie makes them look more impressive than they actually are. Also solid are the obligatory training sequences, which are fun and well-shot.

Overall, Swimming with Men is a fun comedy, but it too formulaic to stand out. Still, the story and comedy make it worth your time to give it a watch.

Swimming with Men opens in select theaters and on VOD December 7.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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