thu 21/11/2019

The Shiny Shrimps review - worth the plunge | reviews, news & interviews

The Shiny Shrimps review - worth the plunge

The Shiny Shrimps review - worth the plunge

Gay water polo comedy fishes some surprisingly deep waters

The Shiny Shrimps perform their "intimidating" pre-match dance

Whoever thought of crossing the social conscience of Pride with the sporting acumen of Dodgeball? Out of this unlikely union comes The Shiny Shrimps, a joyous dive into the world of gay water polo. Though it follows your typical obscure sports underdog story, the layered characters and unflinching topics make the Shrimps a surprise package.

After making homophobic remarks to a gay reporter, the national swimming team is making an example of Matthias Le Goff. If he wants to go to the World Championships, he must pay penance by coaching a gay sporting team. His chosen charges are the titular Shrimps, the worst gay team in the world. They’re unruly, uncompetitive, and unapologetically flamboyant, but they must make it to the Gay Games if he wants to swim again.

As you’d expect, much of the comedy is drawn from Le Goff’s uncomfortableness around openly gay men. He’s not really homophobic, just ignorant and selfish, raised as a serious sportsman. But the joke is never on the Shrimps, apart from when they’re mocking each other. Each character serves certain roles (the promiscuous one, the naïve newbie, the flashy dancer), but the film takes the time to explore their stories.

What impresses most is how The Shiny Shrimps avoids being a one-joke, fish-out-of-water comedy. The diverse team not only challenges stereotypes, but address issues facing the LGBTQ community today: the marginalisation of trans people in gay groups, the hetero-normative implications of starting a family. Surprisingly mature themes for a movie that also features a guess the tattoo on the anus scene.

The film certainly flourishes best when focusing on its characters over the water polo. The actual matches lack structure, mostly montages of people swimming and throwing with little context. Not a major quibble, but the end of the first game includes an impressive one-shot from defence to attack that makes the succeeding matches seem drab by comparison.

The excellent character work throughout means the ending feels rather forced. We’re invested in their story enough that it doesn’t need cheated poignancy. But this is a testament to the film as a whole; for hilarity and genuine heart, The Shiny Shrimps is worth the plunge.

The film certainly flourishes best when focusing on its characters over the water polo

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.