Some films are just designed to be unabashed and unapologetic crowd pleasers and the Swedish delight "The Swimsuit Issue" executes this task with precision. An ode to brotherhood and synchronized swimming, I'm not the first (and nor will I be the last) to compare this movie with the equally charming "The Full Monty." Neither film originated this genre of feel good cinema, but both use its conventions to excellent affect. Where the Monty gang resorted to stripping in times of financial hardship, the Swimsuit boys enter the competitive arena of synchronized swimming as a sort of psychological contest to validate their middle-aged worthiness. Thoughtful, funny, outrageous, and appropriately touching when necessary--this film hits all the familiar beats and yet still manages to seem surprisingly fresh. You may know exactly where this journey will take you, but the ride is thoroughly enjoyable!
Leading our unlikely band of heroes is the charismatic Jonas Inde, an irresponsible man-child with a strained relationship to his teenaged daughter. What begins as a bachelor party joke soon begins to achieve legitimacy as Inde realizes that synchronized swimming was once an all male sport. Enlisting his buddies to try for a place in the upcoming World Cup, however, is just the start of the comic mayhem. With requisite hilarity, the men bumble their way toward success and acceptance fending off reverse discrimination and veiled assaults on their masculinity. As Inde's daughter assists the newly formed team, the improbable soon begins to look possible--but there are still plenty of speed bumps along the way.
With nice bits on friendship and the thawing of a complex father/daughter bond, there are numerous moments of sweetness in this film. Naturally, the unexpected quest leads to terrific character growth and lessons are learned by all. But at its center, "The Swimsuit Issue" is an absurdly funny sports comedy--the kind where the underdog team rises to meet the competitive obstacles placed before them. I was wholeheartedly invested in this fable, even if it breaks no new ground. But it's entertaining, well done, well acted and laugh out loud funny. What more can you really expect? Simply fun for the sake of fun--this is an easy recommendation. About 4 1/2 stars for reinvigorating a familiar genre with much heart, comedy and charm! KGHarris, 3/11.