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Movie Review: The Swimsuit Issue Is Not At All What You Think It Is

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Sorry guys, if you think this is about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, it is not that at all. Ladies, it is not about fashion or magazines either. Entirely different story and genre: men and a bit of midlife crisis are the focal points.

The movie focuses on a group of men who play floor ball (I was not aware this was even a sport — so forgive me for sounding silly). Think of it as hockey played with a ball and indoors. This movie is Swedish and the subtitles moved quickly so I lost some things in translation. The key character is Fredrik, a man who is forced out of his job as a journalist, at loose ends with his life and unsure of what to do. He's divorced and his ex-wife gets a new job in the UK and leaves their daughter with him while she gets settled. The daughter is highly involved in synchronized swimming and is the typical teenage daughter foisted upon an unwitting father who hasn't got a real clue about parenting.

While Fredrik and his buddies are playing floor ball, their time and space is overtaken by other teams of kids and women. Searching for something new, Fredrik sees a synchronized swim practice and thinks it would be funny to do a send-up of synchro-swim for a bachelor party. It winds up being so funny with the guys in drag that the video of their performance as bride and bridesmaids is played at the wedding. It's  the hit of the wedding and they're hired to duplicate their performance at a high-end event — with pay!

Frederik, being the competitive man with time on his hands, convinces his teammates to redo the performance into something more formal and serious and eliminate the drag presentation. However, the performance fails because drag is exactly what the hostess wanted.

While the guys lick the wounds to their egos, Fredrik (a jock if there ever was one), encourages his friends to create a serious synchronized swim team and finds through his research that the first synchronized swim event was created by men and held in Berlin. He and his buddies dive into training and while they come up with some choreography, they find difficulties getting pool time due to reverse discrimination.

All of this is supposed to be funny, but it's a bit frustrating because this is where the movie drops the ball. It's not cohesive enough, the threads of the story aren't completely pulled through to create that sense of what's going on. Springing into gear with the Berlin meet/anniversary of the first formation swim meet since the late 1800s, the team wants to enter as the first men's Swedish team. The daughter, Sara, becomes the team coach and does a great job of whipping these 40-ish men into synchronized swim athletes, which is quite a task

These guys do what other guy films do and they do it no better, no worse — but not as much fun as The Full Monty. However Fredrik's daughter realizes the passion behind her dad's search for a purpose which even leads him to a job of sorts (that's as far from journalism as one could get — a bicycle messenger) however it's treated as a sidenote that makes little sense).

They do wind up performing for an event of 1000 people right before the finals in Berlin and do a superb job. However heading into the Berlin competition, there is a snag: they can only have eight men on the team and not nine. Who's going to get dumped is the question for Fredrik (a situation that he shares with the team but makes the decision alone) and that's where the film ends with some sort of resolution but no visual on how they performed.

This is a decent movie with some very funny parts. The characters aren't completely fleshed out and one wishes they had spent more time on the development of those characters and what drove each man to participate to make sense of the bond. There are very few scenes with women except to be negative. It does have a bonding between father and daughter and that is a parallel storyline. Would I buy this or pay to see it in a theater? No, I wouldn't spend that kind of cash. However as a DVD download or rental, it's better than reruns or what's currently in theaters.

A Fladen Film presentation, in association with Nordisk Film, Gadda Five, Zentropa Entertainments Berlin, Filmpool Stockholm-Malardalen. (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Denmark.) Produced by Rebecka Hamberger. Directed by Mans Herngren. Screenplay, Herngren, Jane Magnusson, Brian Cordray.

With: Jonas Inde, Amanda Davin, Peter Gardiner, Benny Haag, Jimmy Lindström, Andreas Rothlin Svensson, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer, Ia Langhammer.

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