Review: ‘Freetime Machos’

Pic is an affectionate sendup of stoic northern Finnish manhood.

Aptly billed as a comedy about the third lousiest rugby team in the world, “Freetime Machos” reps the latest docu outing from Finland’s Mika Ronkainen (“Screaming Men”), whose well-honed sense of the absurd permeates his films (and led him to co-found the Air Guitar World Championships). Set in the helmer’s hometown of Oulu, the pic is an affectionate sendup of stoic northern Finnish manhood that, apart from fest play, is destined for the smallscreen, where a shorter 58-minute edit should prove ample.

With much of Oulu’s male population toiling for local firm Nokia, traditional displays of masculinity no longer find an outlet in the Finnish workplace. Local team Oyus Rugby offers a bunch of guys a chance to engage in a rough contact sport, but they’re not the machos they first appear. Several limit their participation because of child-care duties, one has published several novels, and another is gay. Encompassing training sessions, matches and general fooling around (of which a little goes a long way), the docu shows the picturesque landscape to full advantage. Music track features interesting local groups like Jolly Jumpers, Brussel Kaupallinen, Magyar Posse and Moto Boy.

Freetime Machos

Finland

Production

A Klaffi Prods., YLE Co-Prods., Prounen Film production, with the participation of Finnish Film Foundation, AVEK, NFTF, TV2 Norge, POEM, NDR, Arte. (International sales: Klaffi, Oulu, Finland.) Produced by Kimmo Paananen, Mika Ronkainen. Co-producer, Michael Trabitzsch. Directed, written by Mika Ronkainen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD-to-35mm), Vesa Taipaleenmaki, Ronkainen; editor, Anders Villadsen; music, Samuli Putro, Ahti Marja-Aho. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic Light), Feb. 6, 2010. (Also in Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Matti Keranen, Mikko Koljonen, Jarmo Stor, Roger Holden, Tuomo Jaakkonen, Ana Vida, Niina Karanen, Kaisa Koljonen.
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