What would be the perfect punishment for an Olympic swimmer caught making a homophobic remark? Why, to coach an amateur gay water polo team to the Gay Games, of course. Such is the premise of this irresistible comedy about water sports based on an actual team called the Shiny Shrimps (so named because ‘the best part of a shrimp is the tail’) – although not, alas, on a true story.
Belgian actor Nicolas Gob is terrific as Matthias Le Goff, straight man (in both senses) to the hapless-but-fabulous ensemble. Instead of cookie-cutter gay archetypes (one is a trans woman), the film is full of well-defined characters with rich inner lives away from the pool, and each gets his moment to shine.
The script occasionally dips into cliché and bears an obvious debt to ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (they even drive in an open-top tour bus), but co-directors Maxime Govare and Cedric de Gallo wring every ounce of comedy potential from the premise, helped by the fact that the stakes are hilariously low.
Even when tragedy strikes – there are tears as well as laughter in this shrimp cocktail – it feels earned, rather than just triggering a show-stopping dance number (though it does that, too), and doesn’t diminish the feelgood factor. Hollywood, if you’re reading, cast Jason Statham (a former Olympic diver) in the remake – you’ll be laughing all the way to le banque.