In Men With Brooms, a curling team reunites with the help of Leslie Nielsen, as they attempt to win the ‘Golden Broom’ tournament. Or, as the DVD blurb describes it: “A comedic journey which takes them from frozen lakes to huge arenas, searching for perfect stones, lost loves and second chances.” Finally, a sports-based rom-com that satisfies my passion for perfect stones.
Leslie Nielsen Grows Magic Mushrooms in his Barn
Guess what Leslie Nielsen does in his barn?
The comedy legend plays Gordon Cutter, father of Chris Cutter (Paul Gross), the team’s captain. Chris patches things up with his old man so he’ll coach the team again, but when he visits, he finds Nielsen manually stimulating a cow’s sphincter so it will provide… fertiliser… for his crop of magic mushrooms. It’s a mad twist in the plot, but one that is sold with Nielsen’s usual charm and straight face.
He’s a reliable presence throughout, delivering most of the film’s laughs as well as a solid dramatic input. He also looks classy as fuck in a Balmoral bonnet. Kudos Leslie. Rest in Peace.
I mean it’s no Schindler’s List, but there’s some vaguely compelling drama on display when the script stops trying to be funny. One of the characters, Amy (Molly Parker), is in the AA and has feelings for Chris, who’s also her sister’s ex. Meanwhile, Chris has to return to curling after a moment of cheating that ruined his career. It’s about as high-octane as men sliding stones around a strip of ice is ever going to get.
It’s hard to put this down as a positive or negative. Like Meryl Streep being nominated for an Oscar or Woody Allen releasing a film every year, it’s just a fact of life. Men With Brooms is set in Canada, and everything about it is unapologetically steeped in that nation’s culture.
Within the first five minutes there are beavers, bagpipes, moose heads in bars, and lumberjacks shipping wood – not to mention the absolute obsession with the sport of curling that forms the film’s plot. Whatever its other flaws, I think it’s safe to say this is the best film you’re ever going to watch if you’re a die-hard fan of curling.
Dammit if those Canadians don’t just have so much integrity. Chris walked away from his team once before after cheating and ‘burning’ a stone (touching it by mistake after it has been thrown), and the same thing happens again in the final of the tournament.
This time he owns up, and his previously douchey opponent, Alexander ‘The Juggernaut’, allows him to retake the shot. I tell you what; those Canadians know the meaning of the word fair. But not the word ruthless.
About thirty seconds into the film we see a CGI beaver, so crudely designed it looks like the rejected 151st Pokémon. Why the awful CGI? It’s not as if Canada has a particular shortage of the things.
Probably the most bizarre thing about a rather bizarre film is its B-plot, featuring Julie (Michelle Nolden) – jilted ex of Chris – as an astronaut. During the film, she gets called up for space travel after the first two astronauts get ill. It’s all perfectly believable, but it just feels so incongruous amongst the homely world of Canadian curling.
Things are only made worse by the fact it’s mentioned literally every single time she appears onscreen. It gets to the point where you wonder why you’re not watching the exploits of astronaut extraordinaire Julie Foley rather than some random dudes throwing rocks around on ice.
Kama Sutra Girl
In a voiceover after his (SPOILER) death, which kickstarts the whole film, Donald Foley refers to his wife as ‘Kama Sutra Girl’. Way to lower the tone of a funeral, even if it’s your own. It’s not really the kind of nickname you can use out and about, is it? Tends to raise a few questions. Maybe a little bit awkward when you ask Kama Sutra Girl to pass you the potatoes at Thanksgiving.
The Battle of the Bacofoil
Our heroes come up against ‘The Juggernaut’ and his gang of curlers who look more like they’re ready to go into the oven than play an end of curling. I spent half the time they were on screen thinking I was watching Blades of Glory instead – ‘The Juggernaut’ even bears an unsettling resemblance to Will Arnett.
There are a couple of funny moments in Men With Brooms, often in the naturalistic banter between the curling team. Where it falls down is in anything resembling a joke. For example, one of the team brings a girl to the wake and when he forgets her name, claims that he “must have name-zheimer’s or something”. Oh you! Belittling a debilitating disease! What are you like?
After the noble moment where Chris owns up to burning a stone and ‘The Juggernaut’ lets him retake it, Chris puts his ear to the stone and listens to the words of his dead ex-coach Donald – whose ashes were interred in the stone, obviously.
He then utters these words: “It’s like the man said: ‘The purity of the heart is to will one thing’,” and hurls his final stone so hard down the ice that it smashes his rival’s stone into smithereens. The fragments of Chris’s stone then fly into the air in a moment of horrible CGI and land in the centre of the target, winning the game.
I laughed more in these thirty seconds than the entirety of the rest of the film.
Star Rating: 2/5
Kane Rating: 2/5
Men With Brooms isn’t that bad, you know. It’s a perfectly harmless sports film with a sprinkling of laughs and some solid acting. It has its flaws, but there’s really not much to hate.
Double the star rating if you’re Canadian or a fan of curling. If you’re both, then this is your Citizen Kane.