"Gentlemen Broncos" DVD, Blu-ray Review

3/10/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Review

"Gentlemen Broncos"

Directed by Jared Hess, Written by Jared and Jerusha Hess, 89 minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Jared Hess has never made a film that is genuinely simple to get into. His directorial debut, "Napoleon Dynamite," completely launched him into the spotlight, and the film turned out to be successful, if polarizing. Personally, I thought "Dynamite" was a huge success, as it balanced Hess' odd and self-referentially quirky humor with some truthful characterization and a simple but bizarrely spot-on look at small-town life. He followed it up with "Nacho Libre," which I haven't seen and most people seem to think it's worse than his debut. His third film, "Gentlemen Broncos," completely brings to light what Hess truly is when he has complete control and a budget, however--a self-indulgent and downright inaccessible filmmaker.

"Broncos" is a complete mess.

The story follows Benjamin (Michael Angarano), an aspiring teenage science fiction writer who enters a story into a contest to be judged by his hero, novelist Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement). Chevalier is hardly maintaining his own career, however, so when he reads and adores Benjamin's story, he decides to take it and rewrite it as his own.

Interspersed throughout the film are little segments dramatizing Benjamin's story. Sam Rockwell plays Bronco, a sort of goofy sci-fi hero based on Ben's father. These segments seem to pay tribute to all sorts of old cheesy sci-fi movies and TV shows, but overall they have absolutely nothing to do with the film and Rockwell couldn't be making more of a fool out of himself.

With "Broncos," Hess reveals himself to be pretty much what many accused him of back when "Dynamite" first came out. He thrives on quirk for quirk's sake, and there is absolutely no depth to his storytelling or direction beyond just appearing different and often vulgar for no apparent reason. It's slightly admirable that Hess sticks to his vision and doesn't compromise it in any way (this is even one of the themes of the film), but there's nothing so groundbreaking in his vision that compromise would eliminate. There is simply nothing being said here. The heart that was so present in "Dynamite" has completely disappeared and seems to have been sacrificed so that he can make vomit jokes and have people say things in funny ways. Yeah, some of the comedy in "Dynamite" was based on how silly Napoleon sounded, but that was one character. This entire film is full of that kind of people.

It's even more baffling when Hess surrounds himself with very talented performers and still can't get anything particularly good out of them. Jemaine Clement, one half of the duo Flight of the Conchords, seems to be the only one notably solid here, portraying Chevalier as flamboyant, self-centered and absurd, but even his performance ends up being excessive and disappointing. Michael Angarano, Sam Rockwell, Jennifer Coolidge and Mike White (who also produced the film) are given pretty much nothing to work with and their talents, both comedic and dramatic, are completely wasted.

So, what happened here? Was Hess reined in on "Napoleon Dynamite"? Has he lost his creative spark? Whatever the case may be, Hess shows himself to be one of the most self-indulgent directors out there with this film, and the film's few laughs do very little to keep it from being a total disaster.

Grade: D

View the movie trailer for "Gentlemen Broncos" below. What are your thoughts?

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