Somewhere in ‘Swimming With Men’ there’s a funny film trying to fight its way to the surface. It’s a promising idea and has an extremely talented cast, but it never quite fulfils its potential.
Rob Brydon plays Eric, an accountant who hates just about everything about his life. Mid-mid-life breakdown, during a routine trip to the swimming pool, he happens across a group of men flailing their way through a synchronised swimming session. With nothing else going on in his life, he’s persuaded to join and suddenly finds himself on a road to the world championships (the story is based on a real group of men who did just the same).
As a comedy about eccentric Brits, that’s a solid place to start. Yet director Oliver Parker (‘Dad’s Army’) doesn’t draw out the silliness and warmth offered by the premise. The dance-swimming doesn’t have the ridiculous humour it might and the moments of triumph feel nice, but not air-punching. It mostly just drifts along amiably.
A supporting cast that includes Jim Carter, Thomas Turgoose, Daniel Mays, Adeel Akhtar and Rupert Graves means everything in the script is played well, but our relationship with these characters is shallow. We see very little of their lives outside the pool. If we were given a deeper look into who they are – Akhtar is particularly undersold – it would make our investment in their success greater. The impression ‘Swimming With Men’ makes is more of a ripple than a splash.