Directed by: Jared Hess Cast: Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Jennifer Coolidge, Hector Jimenez, Sam Rockwell Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins Rating: PG-13 Due Out: March 2, 2010
PLOT: A young writer of science-fiction (Angarano) has his story stolen by his idol (Clement). At the same time, he watches the same unpublished novel become bastardized by two wannabe filmmakers (Coolidge, Jimenez.)
WHO'S IT FOR?: The people who dug Napoleon Dynamite more than just as a fad will likely enjoy this film’s similar presentation. Narrowing that down, aspiring authors who write fan-fiction, especially science fiction stories, are the best bet.
A tribute to geeks (a term used with zero percent condescension) and their sci-fi literature, Gentlemen Broncos is its own tiny moon in a universe of “Hollywood” productions. Its humor, which is acquired and therefore very sparse, is incredibly dry, with amused chuckles resulting from a smooth-operating character bumping into a table, or the fantastical image of a plastic deer flying around with rockets strapped to its body. With its oddball characters and colorful visual representations of the stories such people create, this “indie” film can be credited as having more imagination than most productions from mainstream cinema. What Gentlemen Broncos does not have, however, is control with such creative potential. The lengthy cinematic realizations of Benjamin’s story are the ultimate test for a regular audience already forced to sit through sandpaper humor; the bizarre elements (testicles, transvestites, poop) of said story offer no assistance. The film’s own plot is a slowly built shed that falls apart just as its being constructed, and says little except to complain about how a writer’s work can be mishandled by its “adapters” (which is odd, since director Jared Hess has had reasonable control over his earlier films, but this might change now.) Gentlemen Broncos destroys any inkling one may have had that Hess’ style, which reached the masses unexpectedly with Napoleon Dynamite, has some pseudo-retro hipster agenda. A movie like Gentlemen Broncos doesn’t care to be hip, it just doesn’t work toward being anything positively significant. It’s a sad example of determined effort being channeled into the wrong areas – Benjamin is a fascinating character, one who is legitimately broken down by the suburban thrift store wasteland that Napoleon and Co. live in, but is given a really difficult story in which to flourish.
Director Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, Jennifer's Body) once told me about this metaphorical place that directors are “sent to” when their big projects bomb – “Hollywood Hell.” An unfortunate mess like Gentlemen Broncos is sure to send Hess (and his co-writing partner, Jerusha Hess) into such a volcanic wasteland, and regrettably so. My geek heart hopes the duo are able to create a great escape from whatever shack they are condemned to in Utah, and soon.
MOVIE SCORE: 4/10
Outtakes: A Buttload of Keepsakes - Unlike other collections of on-set goofs, this feature isn't focused just on collecting some mildly funny bloopers. It also aims to be a condensed "Making Of" at the same time.
Mini Docs - This extra is eighteen clips totaling about twenty-five minutes. Features goofy appearances from Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Jared Hess, Mike White, and many more. Essentially fragments from special "behind the scenes" moments that were used to promote the film's "quirkiness" before it was released into the world.
Deleted Scenes - Moments from the already odd Gentlemen Broncos that would have made it even more difficult to swallow. We can be thankful that these were left for a DVD extra, and not the main attraction.
One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos Commentary with Writer/Director Jared Hess, Co-writer Jerusha Hess, and Director of Photography Munn Powell
EXTRAS SCORE: 6/10
Gentlemen Broncos is without a doubt a unique film, and so is the Blu-ray that presents it. Don't be fooled by the disc's slim number of extras, as the special features take full advantage of the standard extras like a blooper reel and behind the scenes documentary to really continue the movie's sense of goofy community. The offbeat humor is embraced by and possibly even more prominent in the extras, as seen in the Mini Docs and a couple of moments in the deleted scenes.
Broncos is a risky rental, especially for those who can be impatient with unusual movies. Though I am aware of its many flaws, I admire the movie for its potential, and consider it one of the more curious examples of a vision gone wrong.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10