Gentlemen Broncos (2009) 3.71/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 72.5
Genre: Comedy
Duration: 90 mins
Director: Jared Hess
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement

For those who believe humor is something that needs constant re-inventing then look no further than Jared Hess’ films. Gentlemen Broncos is quite simply one of the freshest, funniest, well acted (from a comedic standpoint), and sharply written comedies in years. The film tells a small but endearing tale which is playfully examined on a number of skilfully interwoven levels and centres on an insecure adolescent (Michael Angarano), whose unusual lifestyle is turned on its head when his science fiction novella is ripped off by his hero and eccentric cult author “Chevalier” (Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement in a bizarrely funny turn).

Like Hess’s earlier film, Napoleon Dynamite, Broncos is populated by an array of quirky characters, each with hidden depths. The setting is another small town in ‘Nowheresville USA’, and the context is the wonderfully brought to life world of trashy science fiction writing. Again, as he did in Napoleon Dynamite, Hess manages to create a world so utterly bizarre from a visual and aesthetic point of view but so familiar from an emotional point of view that as the film progresses, the realness of the characters increasingly stands out against the more surreal elements of the film so that their emotional tribulations become the dominant focus of the film. He also succeeds in giving us yet another central character who we immediately root for and admire despite, and perhaps because of, his obvious lack of typical mainstream lead character traits.

Angarano is excellent in the lead role in that he manages to play a shy character with little to say while simultaneously holding the viewers’ attention throughout. The supporting roles are all manned ably with Jennifer Coolidge, Mike White, and especially Clement scoring extremely well but, as is the case with every film he stars in, Sam Rockwell steals the show from his very first scene to the very end of the closing credits. Choosing yet another quirky secondary character, Rockwell again shows that he’s not just the most talented character actor of his generation but one of the most instinctively and originally funny as well. Being a good actor and being funny are not necessarily mutually compatible skills but Rockwell does it with ease and as the fictional heroes of both Bronco and Brutus, he gives us two entirely different and insanely original sci fi personas that his ever growing army of fans will relish watching again and again.

As a backdrop to the action, Hess uses the world of pulp science fiction writing and it is with this multi-layered device that main thrust of the comedy is delivered. The fictional world of the “Yeast Lords” is so outrageously funny that few will get through the four or five enacted chapters starring Bronco or Brutus without cracking up at least once (for those who have the DVD, there’s a particularly hilarious blooper where Rockwell can’t bring himself to say the line “were there pimps?” without breaking into laughter at the sheer ludicrousness of his lines). All in all, the film sends up this peculiar little genre of “writing” while clearly maintaining a strong affection for the potential imaginative freedom it sometimes manages to exploit.

Gentlemen Broncos is one of the most original and authentically eccentric films since…. well Napoleon Dynamite. This latter aspect to Hess’ films is a true virtue given the plethora of ‘wacky-by-numbers’ films that Hollywood has been inflicting on us over the past decade. There’s no sense whatsoever that we’ve been here before and that freshness combined with the innate razor-sharp wit of the writing and acting will allow those *who will let it* to laugh the most refreshing and honest laughs they will have laughed in years.

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