This gay, road-trip sports comedy, based on real events, is outrageously feel-good. No one gets AIDS, and everyone does a lot of hugging and learning. Some moments are so insanely contrived that it borders on parody. Yet somehow, a fantastic cast manage to find gravitas and truth in every line, and truly serve the story. Whether watching in French or English, the comedy sparkles.
French Olympic swimming champion Matthias (Nicolas Gob) mutters “pédé” (faggot) under his breath after walking out the door on an excruciating post-competition interview. The televised moment spreads like wildfire and forces the now disgraced professional athlete into some high-level PR: coaching a dreadful, amateur team (who call themselves “Les Crevettes Pailletées” [“The Shiny Shrimps”]) for this year’s international “Gay Games”.
The ensuing road trip through sunny Germany to sunny Croatia on an open-top bus, replete with singing, skinny-dipping and making out with the locals in charming Bavarian hotels, may prove too kitsch for some. However, the cast’s chemistry is so fizzy that it’s surprisingly easy to believe in the reality of this band of old friends.
The relentless, hard-core misogyny in an early scene where they battle a rival lesbian team is funny, but leaves a nasty aftertaste in a film that is otherwise entirely about learning to love and celebrate the things you fear. There are some dark moments — can it really be called “gay cinema” if no one dies? — but overall, this uplifting, finely observed comedy will remind you how lucky you are to be gay.
Find out more about The Shiny Shrimps online.