Fantastic Fest 2009
By Dave Campbell | October 7, 2009
Director: Jared Hess
Writer(s): Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Starring: Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Sam Rockwell, Jennifer Coolidge, Mike White, Héctor Jiménez, Suzanne May, Halley Feiffer
Gentlemen Broncos tells the story of Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano). Benjamin is a home-schooled only child who lives with his widowed mother who designs extemely conservative pastel nightgowns in their dome house. Benjamin spends most of his time alone writing Science Fiction Fantacy stories, striving to become like his idol, writer Dr. Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), famed author of the genre.
Benjamin sets off for a writing convention for home schooled kids where Ronald Chevalier will be the featured guest speaker also heading a contest looking for the best young writer. With Benjamin set on becoming a published writer he enters his latest work “Yeast Lords”, into competition. At the same time, Dr. Chevalier is feeling the heat from his publisher to produce something fresh and sellable or be dropped as a writer. With desperation setting in and nothing of his own to turn in, Dr. Chevalier steals the only workable story from the pile; which happens to be Benjamin’s “Yeast Lords”.
You will probably hear or read many people that enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite say that Gentlemen Broncos is a “return to form” for Jared Hess. Not only is it a return to form, but Broncos goes even farther into many of the elements that gained Napoleon Dynamite its loyal cult audience. So far Hess’ catalog has provided us with a variety of eccentric characters, with situations and backdrops that only amplify this.
As bizarre and odd as this film is (which I mean in a good way), it gets even nuttier when it dives into the story within the story as we see the events of Benjamin’s “Yeast Lords” and Dr. Chevalier’s version “The Chronicles of Brutus and Balzaak”, with the brilliant Sam Rockwell playing the leads Bronco and Brutus. Angarano does a solid job of capturing the innocence of an underdog who overcomes intimidation to evolve into a self-sufficient man. Clement’s Chevalier character is a welcomed contrast to his “Jemaine” character in the Flight of the Conchords, and he really takes the ball and runs with it whole heartedly.
Jared and Jerussa’s script really hits it high points with the Sci-fi utter-ings via Chevalier and the stab at classic Sci-Fi novels of the golden age presented in the back and forth of Bronco and Brutus (Sam Rockwell & Sam Rockwell). Hearing from the other critics out there in the webertron I seem to be in the minority of people who somewhat enjoyed the kitschy uniqely odd and entertaining original comedy. The challenge for team Hess in the future will be finding the middle ground of keeping the odd charm they’ve created while retaining and a broader audience to maintain their creative control.