Review: CUFF kickoff Golden Arm doesn’t break new ground, go over the top enough

A truck driver entrenched in the niche sport of arm wrestling.

A friend who has hit a low point in life, lost passion for living and needs a challenge.

An opportunity for both to reconnect and find redemption together and separately.

The twist: The friends are women.

That’s it. That’s the hook, the only real hook in filmmaker Maureen Bharoocha‘s female buddy/sports comedy, Golden Arm, which is a mix of Bridesmaids, GLOW and Over the Top — certainly not an endorsement, and a comparison that’s neither original or clever.

Much like the film, itself.

Yes, the gender flip is welcome — and, in that spirit, most of the film team are female —  but, much like the woefully unfunny Ghostbusters reboot, seems done as a statement and a schtick more than an actual genuine plot necessity or an attempt at something original. 

And when it’s following the exact same tropes as we’ve seen in other sports spoofs ranging from the classics such as Kingpin and Dodgeball to the funny but forgettable Balls of Fury or Hot Rod, there’s not really much here to get you excited about or that you haven’t seen a million times or that goes far enough.

Silly training montage. Yup.

Silly fashion montage. Why not.

Tough, no-nonsense coach and legend. Of course.

Extraneous, tacked-on romance. Sure.

Adversity in the big match. You know it.

It’s all so played out now that even the female angle seems tired.

And so Golden Arm is a film which lives and dies by how likeable you find the characters and your willingness to root for them, and follow them on this predictable journey.

It’s a tough ask, considering veteran voice actor Betsy Sodaro’s blue-collar, long-haul boorishness isn’t amped up enough to get the laughs needed (it doesn’t help that she sounds like she’s channeling Pamela Adlon as Bobby Hill — close your eyes and try not to hear it), and the prim and proper Mary Holland, the would-be hero of the story, comes off as a somewhat less charismatic Kristin Wiig, and certainly not anyone you’d put money on as an arm wrestler let alone to walk off as champ. (Note: The term “spoiler alert” is entirely unnecessary.)

Both are competent in their roles, and as a film, Golden Arm is well made for what it is, with the pacing only slightly slower than you’d wish between set pieces (the training, the tournament, the final match).

You might get a few laughs, but it’s nothing that’s really sustained — more an SNL skit than a feature-length film, falling in that category of amusing idea stretched way, way too thin, with a twist that is the point but no longer really notable.

Golden Arm screens online Friday, April 23 at 7 p.m. Director Maureen Bharoocha and lead actresses Betsy Sodaro and Mary Holland will join for a live Q&A following the Opening Night Live Event. For more information go to