Jared Hess launched his career with the instant cult classic Napoleon Dynamite. For his sophomore effort he went all Hollywood with the abysmal Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre. Now he’s returned to his indie roots with Gentlemen Broncos, but is that necessarily a good thing?
Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) is an awkward home-schooled kid who writes science fiction stories. He goes to a writer’s camp where he gets to meet his idol, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), who happens to be suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. Things go south for Ben when Chevalier steals Ben’s story “Yeast Lords.” Also, he sells the rights to his story to a local low budget filmmaker who butchers the story.
This film had a lot of potential but fell very far from the mark, so much so that Fox Searchlight actually cancelled the national theatrical release of the film.
Let’s look at what works first. Jemaine his hilarious as the pompous Chevalier with a Bluetooth in his ear at all times that he never uses, his Native American themed outfits and his fake Orson Welles voice. It’s by no means Flight of The Conchords funny, but it’s certainly one of the highlights of the film.
The other shinning star of the film is Sam Rockwell, who plays Ben’s hero, Bronco. The scenes that play out Ben’s story are done very intentionally bad and are pretty damn funny. Then you get to see Chevalier’s version of the story where Bronco becomes the very flamboyant Brutus (also played by Rockwell). The other great thing about the sci-fi scenes are the Cyclops’s that look like they stepped right out of Krull which honestly might have been my favorite part of the film.
But there ends the compliments. Ben is a very bland lead character lacking all the charm of Napoleon. He’s pathetic throughout the whole film and you never really ever feel for him. Also the so-called love interest, Tabatha (Halley Feiffer), is just annoying. There is absolutely no chemistry between these two. It’s hard to believe that either of them like each other.
The plot, which has a lot of potential, just meanders through and wraps up a little to easily, The ending flashes by so quickly it takes you a minute to realize what’s happened and Ben has little if nothing to do with solving his own problems.
Jennifer Coolidge and Mike White don’t do bad jobs, but for the most part their talents are wasted here.
This is strike two for Hess. If he’s doesn’t get his act together, he career could be in real trouble.
Gentlemen Broncos is presented in 1:85.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Dolby Digital. This is a film that doesn’t look all that much better on blu-ray. It’d fine I guess but nothing special.
Commentary with Jared and Jerusha Hess and Munn Powell: This is a really bland and uninteresting commentary.
Outtake Reel: A Buttload of Keepsakes: (9 min.) A few laughs, but one of more lackluster outtake reels I’ve seen.
Mini Docs: (22 min.) You get a chunk of these ranging from 1-2 min. Some are kinda funny, some not so much.
Note: I don’t know if this was some weird glitch on my TV or if it’s the way it was meant to be presented but the extras all only appeared in the top left corner of my TV and very small. Very strange and very annoying.
This is a really frustrating film because everything that was hilarious there was ten things that were the exact opposite of funny. I’ll give Hess credit for getting back to the style that launched his career, but this film lacks all that charm that Napoleon had.
20th Century Fox presents Gentlemen Broncos. Written by Jared Hess & Jerusha Hess. Directed by Jared Hess. Starring Jemaine Clement, Michael Angarano, Jennifer Coolidge Running time: 89 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some crude humor. Released on Blu-ray: March 2, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years