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.
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.
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.