Some directors are able to create a unique cinematic style that can not only satisfy them as an artist but earn them mainstream success.
Husband and wife filmmaking team Jared and Jerusha Hess are not these directors. After their fleeting success with Napoleon Dynamite, audiences soon realised that it was a one off and the pair could only create work of a similar ilk but disimilar quality, resulting in Nacho Libre and now Gentlemen Broncos (which will not even get a cinematic release but go straight to DVD).
Michael Angarano plays Benjamin Purvis, a home-schooled aspiring sci-fi writer who’s living in relative poverty with his wannabe fashion designer mother, Judith (Jennifer Coolidge). In an attempt to meet his literary hero, Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jermaine Clement), Benjamin goes to a writer’s camp where he makes frenemies with Tabatha (Halley Feiffer) and amateur director Lonnie (Héctor Jiménez).
When Chevalier is strapped for ideas for his next book, he steals Benjamin’s latest story entitled ‘Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years’, changes the names, makes Bronco a tranny and passes it off as his own. Playing out alongside the main narrative are three fantasy variations of Benjamin’s work – Chevalier’s bastardised version, Lonnie and Tabatha’s low budget movie adaptation and Benjamin’s original idea, with Sam Rockwell playing Bronco in all three.
The premise is simple and would fit its 90 minute running time perfectly were it not laden down with unnecessary gross out gags. I suspect that if you’re a huge fan of Napoleon Dynamite then you’ll get a big kick out of the whole thing, if not then there are huge portions of the movie that are going to both bore and annoy you.
Jermaine Clement’s scenes as the arrogant Chevalier are the funniest ones but are in short supply, as are Michael Angarano’s, who performs nicely but is wasted by the writers who don’t give him very much to do. The director steers clear of using Jennifer Coolidge’s breasts to float the movie as others have done and lets her act, proving that although she’s definitely got the chops for comedy, she’s also capable of bringing depth to a character.
The quirkiness of the characters becomes almost unbearable as the Hesses were apparently incapable of writing any sense of normalcy into the script, leaving the audience with a bunch of weirdoes for an hour and a half. This might be enough to get a cult following on DVD but it’s not worth a cinema trip.
Though I’ll admit that the first 20 minutes are very enjoyable with plenty of laughs, it quickly loses its appeal and proves that the Hesses have run out of things to say.