The Shiny Shrimps: Good-natured and silly gay comedy

Review: Ready or not, we’re getting more men in pools in this cartoon Pride parade

The Shiny Shrimps
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Director: Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo
Cert: 15A
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Nicolas Gob, Alban Lenoir, Michaël Abiteboul, Geoffrey Couët, David Baïot, Romain Lancry
Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins

Gruff Olympic swimmer Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob) is at the tail end of his career and he knows it. So when a TV commentator asks him about retirement and he blurts out a homophobic slur, he has to go crawling to the governing sports body, so that he might get one last season in the pool.

His punishment, they decide, is to coach the Shiny Shrimps. The crustaceans of the title are a failing yet fabulous water polo team that newspaper clippings tell us are “the worst gay sports team”.

Predictably, they’re a bunch of misfits: the angry older one, the young naive one, the soulful one, the harried married one, and the one who has chopped off his penis. “Trans is complicated”, cries the angry older one. “The swimsuits!”

Slowly but surely, former homophobe Matthias and the gang bond as they prepare for the Gay Games in Croatia. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.


Last year’s synchronised swimming comedy, Sink or Swim, was an enormous hit in its native France. So we are getting more men in pools, ready or not.

The title of this French sports comedy sounds better in English than the original Les Crevettes Pailletées. But that pronounced Gallic flair for broad comic stereotyping doesn’t always translate so easily.

Matthias – before seeing the light – ignorantly harrumphs: “What problems? Picking a dress?” But his unfair assessment isn’t a million miles from the film’s flouncy characterisation. The shrimps carp endlessly on sex, lip-synch to Celine Dion, and check out every passing rear. Their company can feel like getting caught up in a cartoon version of a Pride parade.

Still, the film, which was written and directed by Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo, is good-natured and pleasingly silly. The cast are game. The skies are sunny. And the tragic third act is appropriately teary.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic