Birch Street Gym (1991)

Short, Comedy, Drama


A group of elderly retirees join a boxing gym, and rediscover their self-worth as they repudiate expectations that they're too old to lead vigorous lives. Jack is particularly relieved to ... See full summary »

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6.5/10
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2 May 2004 | bob the moo
Average direction but a witty and enjoyable short
When Jack is in the old age home playing chess, his opponent falls asleep. Enraged, he knocks the man out, much to the annoyance of the nurses - however he attracts the attention of another man who invites him to join his club. Jack joins the old age boxing club at the Birch St gym, where old people box to get over their feelings of uselessness. Despite this, the authorities want to shut the club down for safety reasons; meanwhile Jack prepares for his title fight with the powerful Marco Rocco.

Despite showing it's age a little bit, this is an enjoyable short that mixes a fun comic tone with a serious point about the lives of old age citizens. The point is rather heavily delivered but it is good nonetheless, but it is the comic boxing training that makes the short enjoyable. The plot focuses on the threat from the authorities and the title fight and it is well delivered with a good mix that helps us get into the characters and their situations. The fight scenes are hardly Raging Bull quality but they are engaging enough - their weakness is more due to the direction than anything else. Kessler doesn't stand out from anyone else who directed the short films in the Short Film Cinema series - his direction is quite flat and uninspired, partly due to budget I'm sure, plus the film stock looks washed out and pale, although that may be the age of the film, I don't know.

The cast are all pretty good with Gould being an engaging lead character in particular. The script helps and it gives plenty of witty lines to the cast. At twenty minutes long, it is a longer film than many shorts I have watched (most are ten minutes or thereabouts) but it still flowed by quite quickly. Overall this is an enjoyable short despite rather listless direction.

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Genres

Short | Comedy | Drama | Sport

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