The Swimsuit Issue
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Seven clumsy menopausal males strive to become the new kings of a female-dominated sport in this comedy from Sweden. Frederik (Jonas Inde) is a man in his mid-forties whose life has been taking a series of small turns for the worst; he's lost his job as a newspaper reporter, his teenage daughter Sara (Amanda Davin) considers him an embarrassment, and his ego is bruised by the notion that his former wife has just earned a raise and a promotion. Frederik and a handful of buddies play floor hockey on a regular basis, but now the team is looking for a new home as their gym is now overrun by special teams for women, kids and the handicapped and has no space for them. One night, Frederik and the team work up a comedy skit for a friend's bachelor party in which they impersonate a women's synchronized swimming team in drag; the sketch is a hit, and while repeating it a few days later doesn't go at all well, it gives Frederik the idea that they could form Sweden's first all-male synchronized swimming team. The fact that Frederik and his buddies are overweight and can barely tread water doesn't dampen their enthusiasm to prove that they can still do something remarkable, but convincing anyone else that they're not some sort of joke is an uphill struggle. Directed and co-written by Mans Herngren, Allt Flyter (aka The Swimsuit Issue) features an original score by the acclaimed Swedish rock band The Soundtrack Of Our Lives.
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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.
The film has a lot of heart and humor. Director Herngren skillfully gets the best out of a very good cast and avoids the slapstick and melodrama that could have torpedoed the story line. While the film has a recognizably Swedish context, its appeal is universal and should be popular with any audience. Recommended.