Monday, 26, Apr 2010 06:45Directed by Jared Hess, released April 30th in cinemas, starring Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Sam Rockwell, Jennifer Coolidge, Mike White, 90 mins.
Michael Angarano and Jemaine Clement in Gentlemen Broncos Whatâ€™s it all about?
Homeschooled sci-fi enthusiast Benjamin (Angarano) sees a chance to escape his smalltown Utah upbringing when his attendance of a writers' camp provides the chance to see his fantasy novel Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years published. Benjamin's dreams for his book turn nightmarish as low-budget filmmaker Lonnie (Hector Jimenez) buys the rights to Yeast Lords only to tarnish the story with his handmade adaptation while Benjamin's hero Dr Ronald Chevalier (Clement) attempts to salvage his ailing career by stealing Benjamin's story for his own novel The Chronicles of Brutus and Balzaak. As an example...
"It is such an honour to be in the presence of so many juvescent, ripe minds." â€“ Chevalier
"I'm completely distressed, I can't even concentrate on my audiobook narration." â€“ Chevalier
"You stole my story!" â€“ Benjamin
"I don't know what you're talking about." â€“ Chevalier
"All you did was change the character names and turn Brutus into a tranny." - Benjamin What the others say
"The relentlessly (and overbearingly) quirky imagination of filmmaker Jared Hess yields diminishing returns in his third feature." â€“ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"A deeply weird movie that bears no signs of any interference from any Hollywood types. For better or worse, this is what comes out of Hess' brain when he's left to his own devices." â€“ Eric D Snider So is it any good?
It's a shame to note that the third film from director Jared Hess and his wife and co-writer Jerusha sees the worst aspects of his previous two films indulged to such an extent that a potentially excellent comedy becomes barely watchable. Gentlemen Broncos features the same homemade credit sequence, plucky loser lead and self-conscious weirdness of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre but ups the off-putting self-indulgence that hampered those films and throws in some ill-fitting gross-out for good measure.
The film becomes a hugely frustrating experience because of its early promise, with Sam Rockwell tremendous value in the three renditions of Benjamin's story (the original, Lonnie's adaptation and Chevalier's theft) and Clement the scene-stealing wonder beloved by fans of Flight of the Conchords. The New Zealander's intonation and timing are pitch-perfect for the stonewash-wearing pompous sci-fi writer, and the comic promise of an early scene â€“ in which he explains the protocol of naming science fiction characters by adding "onious", "anious" or "anous" â€“ means Chevalier's later appearances only serve to remind you of the cult classic this could have been. Sadly, the appealing Angarano, Rockwell and Clement are let down by the Hesses' penchant for drawing out supposedly comic scenes to the point of discomfort while a kissing scene drenched in vomit represents a new nadir in gross-out cinema. The casting of Hector Jimenez as aspiring auteur Lonnie is mystifying, with his appearance and demeanour creepy to the point of nauseating, and the filmmakers seem so concerned with fleshing out Benjamin's depressing and drab home life that the script repeatedly, and damagingly, darts away from Chevalier's theft of Benjamin's novel, comfortably the most compelling aspect of the film.
There are fine ideas and characters on display here, with Clement a hilarious highlight and some seemingly affectionate pastiches of the profundity of science fiction. But with the Hesses' problems with pacing and tone growing more severe as their career continues, Gentlemen Broncos is a hugely disappointing missed opportunity. 5.5/10 Lewis Bazley