Instead, it’s a laugh-out-loud charmer about self-discovery and female friendship set against a backdrop of women’s arm wrestling.
Comedian Mary Holland is Melanie, a recently divorced owner-operator of a failing bakery. Her customers are rude, she’s going broke and she really needs a break.
Meanwhile, Melanie’s best friend Danny (Upright Citizens Brigade Theater’s Betsy Sodaro) takes on Brenda “The Bonecrusher” (Olivia Stambouliah) in an arm-wrestling match and, true to form, The Bonecrusher breaks Danny’s wrist. In a cast and unable to compete in the Women’s Arm-Wrestling Championship, Danny wants revenge. “We need a ringer,” Danny says.
When it turns out that years of running the bakery by herself has given Melanie natural arm strength, Danny asks her to sub in for her at the tournament. “I’m gonna have you fill in for me at the nationals,” she says.
Melanie doesn’t have the killer instinct of an athlete but the fifteen-thousand-dollar prize money would solve many of her problems so she agrees. But first they must train under the tutelage of legendary arm-wrestling coach, Big Sexy (former “Glee” star and fifteen-time world arm wrestling champion Dot-Marie Jones).
“Golden Arm” is a feel-good sports movie that, like all good sports movies, it isn’t really about the sport. There’s loads of time spent talking about arm wrestling and we learn that it takes to win—“Be quick and explosive, you want to get the jump,” and that it takes eight pounds of pressure to break a humerus, the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow—and, of course, there is a showdown at the film’s climax, but this is a movie about a personal journey, female friendship and empowerment.
It’s also laugh out loud funny, sometimes vulgar, sometimes sweet. Sodaro is like a female Jack Black, a brash performer who takes chances and can deliver a line. Balancing her out is Holland, whose arc extends from meek-and-mild to badass in ninety minutes. They are the heart and soul of the movie and, with a colourful supporting cast, provide enough laughs and emotion to make “Golden Arm” a winner.