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Men with Brooms
(Quatre gars et un balai)
Directed by Paul Gross
Written by Paul Gross
John Krizanc
Paul Quarrington
Starring Paul Gross
Connor Price
Leslie Nielsen
Peter Outerbridge
Kari Matchett
Molly Parker
Polly Shannon
Cinematography Thom Best
Distributed by Alliance Atlantis
Release date(s) March 8, 2002
Running time 102 min.
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $7.5 million[1][2]
Gross revenue $4.2 million[3]

Men with Brooms is a 2002 Canadian romantic comedy film, starring and directed by Paul Gross. Centred on the sport of curling, the offbeat comedy tells the story of a reunited curling team from a small Canadian town as they work through their respective life issues and struggle to win the championship for the sake of their late coach.

The cast also includes Connor Price, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Outerbridge, Kari Matchett, Molly Parker and Polly Shannon. Members of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip make a cameo appearance in the film as a competing rink representing Kingston, Ontario, the band's home city. Winnipeg curler and two-time Brier champion Jeff Stoughton also made a cameo appearance throwing his trademark "spin-o-rama" shot.

Contents

Origins

The film began from a discussion that Gross had with producer Robert Lantos right after Due South was cancelled. Lantos had an idea for a hockey film: "I talked to (co-writer) John Krizanc about it, but it was too complicated with that number of characters. Besides, hockey is political. It's hard to talk hockey in this country since we think of it as our game, but it's largely owned by others."[4] Gross solved those problems by replacing hockey with curling.

In October 2000, Gross was still working on the script with Krizanc and another writer, Paul Quarrington.[5]

Pre-production and production

According to Thom Best (the film's director of photography)[6], the film had three weeks of pre-production, which mostly consisted of scouting locations in Ontario. Six weeks of principal photography took place in Toronto, in locations such as a studio space and the streets in Uxbridge. Four days of exteriors were shot around the mines in Sudbury, and two more weeks of principal photography occurred in Hamilton and Brampton curling rinks.

Alliance Atlantis invested $1.5 million or more in the film's prints and advertising campaign, which included an eight-city, private jet tour for cast, the director, and producer Robert Lantos.[7]

Plot

Nothing has been the same in the little town of Long Bay, Ontario since Chris Cutter (Paul Gross) disappeared ten years ago. When curling star Cutter took off, he didn't just throw away a chance to win the Golden Broom — the "Stanley Cup" of the curling world — he actually hurled the curling stones into the waters of local Trout Lake. And he also threw away his chance at love, leaving his beautiful fiancée Julie Foley (Michelle Nolden) standing at the altar. Although Julie survived Cutter's rapid retreat (she went off to become an astronaut), he sank the sporting dreams of his three teammates and left them behind to fare for themselves. And they haven't fared too well: Neil Bucyk (James Allodi) is a dissatisfied mortician in a marriage as lifeless as his customers; James Lennox (Peter Outerbridge) is constantly courting trouble, and this time he's headed for a date with a thug who's tracking him down in search of payback; and Eddie Strombeck (Jed Rees) can't impregnate his wife because of his single digit sperm count. But Cutter's former Coach — and Julie's father — has hatched an idea that just might change all their fates. Aided by his other daughter Amy (Molly Parker), a single mother who battles alcohol alongside broken dreams, the Coach dreams up a plan that involves reclaiming the curling rocks from the bottom of Trout Lake. But while raising the rocks, the Coach dies of a heart attack. Returning for the funeral, Cutter grows nostalgic for Long Bay and those he left behind. But, it is not until he hears the codicil to Coach Foley's will that he becomes entangled in the dead coach's plan and is determined to stay. In the will, Coach Foley stipulates that he wants his ashes placed in the curling team's Copernicus stone; he wants Cutter to re-form the Long Bay Curling Club team; and moreover, he wants them to place his stone — now his urn — on the "button" (the curling ring bull's eye) to finally win the Golden Broom. Realizing that the team needs a coach in order to win, Cutter calls upon an eccentric retired curling champion — his estranged father Gordon Cutter (Leslie Nielsen). Thus, these four men with brooms, along with their coach, set off on a comedic journey which takes them from frozen lakes to huge arenas, searching for perfect stones, lost loves and second chances.

Reception

The film attracted $1.04 million in North American box office, opening on 215 screens in 207 theatres for a $5,024 per-screen average, the third highest among all North American releases for the three-day opening period starting March 8.[7] It ended up grossing over $4.2 million[3] — all of it in Canada[8] — making it the top-grossing Canadian English film subsidized by Telefilm Canada between 1997 and 2002.[9]

American magazine Entertainment Weekly gave the film a grade of C-, calling the film's cast "charming" but criticized the script for being "alternately overdetermined and touching, crass and sharply comic."[10] Reviewers for Jam! were split.[11] One called it a "perplexing example of promise unfulfilled, despite many charming moments...[whose] romantic elements are light, like watery beer with the alcoholic kick removed. And the comedy elements are often too crude and clumsy to do justice to the movie's situations. " Another called it a "winning ensemble comedy that shows Canadians can put gentle laughs and equally gentle sentiments on the button, just as easily as their counterparts anywhere else in the world." Hollywood trade paper Variety called it a "wan romantic comedy" with "ineffective physical comedy in slightly crude Brit geezer vein...[and] a load of unneeded expletives."[12]

The film now has a cult following on DVD. Many relish the gentle Canadian comedy with its wry look at its country. Many drinking games have evolved as a result.

In September 2002, Lantos told Playback that he and Gross had a sequel in development.[8]

The film won a Canadian Comedy Award for its "Pretty Funny Direction", and received two nominations at the 23rd Genie Awards, one for Molly Parker's performance and another for the screenplay.[13]

Soundtrack and book

A soundtrack album for the film was released, with songs by The Tragically Hip, Kathleen Edwards, The New Pornographers, and Our Lady Peace among others. A best-selling novelization[14] by Diane Baker-Mason (ISBN 1-55278-263-8) was also published in 2002.

Not included on the soundtrack is the opening theme, an arrangement by Jack Lenz of the Canadian folksong Land of the Silver Birch performed by Paul Gross, Jack Lenz and D Cameron. The song's lyrics and relevance remain the focus of debate for many fans.

References

External links








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