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Mount your battle stag, grab a popcorn ball and get ready to laugh your head off at Gentlemen Broncos! The director of Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess) and co-star of Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement) team up to bring you the story of Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano), a lovable loner whose life is turned upside down when a pretentious fantasy author steals his story at a writers camp. Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) and Mike White (School of Rock) join a hysterical cast of oddball characters in this 'fun, quirky comedy.' (People)
The folks behind Napoleon Dynamite proved themselves to be comedic quirk-masters, and Gentlemen Broncos fits right into Napoleon's moon boots. Michael Angarano stars as Benjamin, a self-conscious, home-schooled teen whose aspirations of being a science-fiction writer are played out Walter Mitty-style. His doting mother (Jennifer Coolidge) treats him to a weekend at a writing camp, where Benjamin meets his idol, sci-fi author Ronald Chevalier (Jermaine Clement, The Flight of the Conchords). Benjamin submits his "Yeast Lords" manuscript to Chevalier for the big-time writer's approval. But Chevalier is struggling for a hit book and he promptly plagiarizes Benjamin's work. Director Jared Hess cowrote Gentlemen Broncos with his wife, Jerusha Hess, and they do a fine job of capturing grimacingly painful, but funny trials of adolescence. The 'nad jokes and gross-out humor get a little stale, but the Hesses have assembled a brilliant, watchable cast. Angarano gives Benjamin a lovable, nerdy touch. Coolidge chalks up yet another comedic character role, complete with appliquéd sweatshirts and floral vests. Clement nearly steals every scene as the laughingly pompous sci-fi author Chevalier. Mike White turns in a fine performance as Dusty, Benjamin's mom-appointed guardian angel. Héctor Jiménez (Nacho Libre) and Halley Feiffer round out the cast as friends who want to help make Benjamin's "Yeast Lords" dream come true by filming an ultra-low-budget, amateur version of his story. As with Napoleon Dynamite, the cast's clothing is as funny as some of their lines. --Francine Ruley
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Top Customer Reviews
Taste in comedy is of course, very subjective. I would say use whether or not you liked Napoleon Dynamite as a baseline for whether you will like this movie. You either like cilantro or you don't. You either like subtly silly movies that are quirky without being creepy, or you don't. This is an underdog becomes the hero story, played out in the world of people who are in the margins of our culture: homeschoolers, sci-fi fans, dwellers of geodesic dome houses.
In this one, a homeschooled, amateur novelist teenager, Benjamin, played by Michael Angarano (Young William in "Almost Famous", young Red Pollard in "Seabiscuit") attends a teen science-fiction writers' conference, led by his hero, hit sci-fi author, Chevalier (Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, Men in Black III, etc.). I don't want to say, "When Chevalier plagiarizes Benjamin's novel, hilarity ensues", because the hilarity begins in the first two minutes.
Like a Robert Altman movie, that gets you into a world you've only ever given a cursory glance from the outside, Gentleman Broncos gives you a real taste of the world of homeschoolers: the doting, struggling, sometimes oddball parents, the usually great relationship between homeschooling parents and their children, the confidence, misplaced or not, homeschooled kids have that they can do what they aspire to do. While not typical, there are certain great little details that homeschoolers and readers of Mother Earth News, will recognize. The plot, the dialogue, the action aside, these sweet little tidbits make watching this movie like eating a really great tira misu.
All the performances, from every actor, are just perfect, as is the casting. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the really standout performance from Sam Rockwell, who plays the protagonist of Benjamin's novel in the Benjamin's and Chevalier's duelling versions of it. When is Sam Rockwell going to get an Oscar, already?
The best way to describe this is film is to say that it is by the same people who did “Napoleon Dynamite.” So it has an off-beat Intermountain West/Cultural Mormon sensibility, without being a session of General Conference. In fact, this film is PG-13 for a reason. It’s not appropriate for the family home evening, or BYC or EFY.
There is good here: a good message about off-beat people achieving their dreams—Benjamin is a George McFly-type, an aspiring sci-fi writer, and his mother is seamstress with big dreams. They realize their dreams, so you do feel good about that. But ...
… But the humor veers into a type of Austin Powers double entendres, or deadpan discussion of mammaries, gonads, fetuses, Bronchanuss, snakes pooping, pink vomit, popcorn balls, etc. So, it's really just junior high school snicker humor.
But the characterization and acting—wow! Each screwball character looks the part (much like Calvin Grondahl's comics) and has charm, and each are immensely likeable. Even the geodesic house is perfect for the film.
And keep in mind that the low production values and cheesy-hokey aspects to the film are intentional. Like the Aquabats, the film is a nod to 1970s kitsch—especially the sci-fi scenes. Admittedly, there is a generation gap here, and that contributes to some people's problem with the film. If you grew up with LDS roadshows or Boy Scout skits, you understand this film's angle.
This film differs from Napoleon Dynamite in that the film inter-cuts with the sci-fi story (“Yeast Lords”) that Benjamin Purvis has written, much like “The Never Ending Story.” It adds variety to the story, like the old Calvin and Hobbes comics.
But overall, this film gets a thumbs-down. There is a lot of good here (quirky characterization being the best, and Jermaine Clement's performance almost saves the movie), but the crude potty humor just did not end, and drug it down.
If we could just isolate Jermaine Clement's performance somehow … sigh.