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Review: “Freetime Machos,” a Finnish rugby bromance.

Review: “Freetime Machos,” a Finnish rugby bromance. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

A small, agreeable documentary with an awkwardly not-quite-in-English title, “Freetime Machos” tries to position itself as a sort of Finnish nonfiction Apatow-style bromance about guys whose slightly squishy outsides hide very squishy hearts. It’s not terribly successful on that front, but I’m not sure it needs to be.

Director Mika Ronkainen starts his film off with a voiceover explaining that in the northern town of Oulu, men are supposed to be men — stoic, stoic men, who don’t like to let on that they feel pain of either the physical or emotional variety. For the group of guys he follows, playing amateur rugby is an escape — physically, but also mentally, as companionship, social time at the bar or hanging out in the sauna with a few beers seems to be just as important to everyone as actually playing.

The team happens to be the most northerly in the world, as well as not very good — over the course of their season, they struggle to avoid ending up at the bottom of their league and getting bumped down to a lower division. “Freelance Machos” zooms in on the friendship between two of the players in particular: Mikko, a family man struggling to support four children, and Matti, 22 and a lovable goof, who sincerely love each other in the way that only two gruff Nordic men can. The team also includes a novelist, a girl (not allowed, per the organization’s rules, to play during the games), the British coach and someone who eventually comes out as gay to Matti, who’s the kind of guy you could see being uncomfortable with such a revelation.

04282010_freetimemachos2.jpgThe team’s mascot is a blow-up doll, and there are one or two discussions about porn and picking up girls, but the guys are so solid, so fundamentally well-behaved that they can barely put up a veneer of bad boy behavior — when Ana, the girl, a Spanish university student, joins up, they’re so courteous with her that she remarks, when one gives her a hug as he sees her off to the airport, “at least one of the guys touched me.”

While the hijinks fall flat, the sense of melancholy hanging over everything, going beyond just the desire for friendship, endures far beyond the credits. The layoffs at Nokia, a major employer in the city and a current or former one of at least two of the team members, are a small plot thread throughout “Freetime Machos,” and they represent more of a threat to the sense of self of its men than having to clean an apartment or make up with their girlfriends.

“Freetime Machos” is currently without distribution.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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