The Shiny Shrimps is co-written and co-directed by Cédric Le Gallo, making his feature debut here, and Maxime Govare, previously known for the comedies I Kissed a Girl (2015) and Daddy Cool (2017). The film is about a curmudgeonly, humourless, 33-year-old Olympic swimmer, Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob), who is coming to the end of his professional career and is ordered to train an LGBTQ+ water polo team as punishment after he utters a homophobic slur at a TV sports presenter on air when he openly comments on the waning state of his career. It was apparently inspired by an LGBTQ+ water polo team of which Le Gallo is a part in real life.
Although Le Goff initially finds the team’s lack of ability and dedication disheartening, in classic buddy movie style, he soon finds himself building up a rapport with his new charges, as he comes to realise that while they may not be the best athletes in the world, they have acted as a family and a community for each other, at times when those roles weren’t being filled by anyone else. The team then enter the ‘Gay Games’, an LGBTQ+ watersports tournament in Croatia, and put Le Goff’s training to the test.
This is an enjoyable, fun, and light-hearted late-summer romp, with amusing, spirited, and likeable performances from its predominantly male cast. Whilst it won’t be troubling my end-of-year list, it served as 103 minutes of decent, unpretentious escapism with engaging characters, funny dialogue, and a compelling plot. Although releasing a comedy about summertime sports in early September is possibly a questionable decision, it could well provide an antidote to those end-of-summer blues.
The Shiny Shrimps opens in UK cinemas nationwide on 6 September