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Gentleman Broncos (2009)

by on 2010/04/10

This review is dedicated to the loving memory of Hacker Renders’ Dell desktop. It gave its life for Geek vs Goth.

* * *

I adore, adore, adore Jared Hess movies in a way only a person who grew up odd and awkward can. I say now with absolutely no qualification that anyone who doesn’t like Jared Hess movies can’t be my friend.

In Gentlemen Broncos, Jared Hess won over my permed and bullied inner child once again his depiction with homeschooled, tragic-comic protag, Benjamin (Michael Angarano). Benjamin is long-suffering loner and aspiring science fiction writer. Complete with home-made clothes, adolescent combover and incredible suggestibility, Benjamin’s only friend is his drab, depressive (s)mother and dressmaker Judith, played hilariously by Jennifer Coolidge.

I’d like to take this opportunity to accuse Jared Hess of stealing my childhood home movies and Grade School photos as his core research for Napoleon Dynamite and Gentlemen Broncos. Hess has a knack for taking us into sad, ordinary, backwater homes filled with sweet eccentrics and telling a geniunely funny story with so very little.

Benjamin’s latest work of science fiction is Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years. Yeast Lords is a tale of a man named Bronco whose yeast and manhood is stolen in a sinister plot to create a super army. Dedicated to his deceased father, Benjamin takes the his book to the Cletus Writers Festival, a rare opportunity to leave his house.

In Gentlemen Broncos, Hess riffs on awkward youth as only he can while also taking on the science fiction fan boy community.  All that is earnest, pretentious and gaspingly desperate about sci-fi subculture is embodied by the inspired character, novelist Dr. Ronald Chevalier, played by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement.

Of Clement’s performance, I ask you: where is Oscar for Jemaine’s accent in this film? Where is Oscar? Clement is so funny in this role you can even see him crack himself up during his scenes. I could watch his lecture about the correct naming convention for troll babies over and over. In fact, I am not ashamed to say I have.

I normally don’t read reviews before I write one myself but I did glance at a few …and I must ask, what does it take to make you happy, oh, great and terrible Internet? Why must you hate so?

For my money, there’s a lot to love in this film. Clement’s performance, all the characters’ clothes, the settings, the proliferation of popcorn balls, the house in which Benjamin and Judith live (shaped like a large white um….snowball) are all inspired.

If I had a criticism, it is the films-within-a-film – the many differing depictions of Yeast Lords. They didn’t add a great deal to the film overall, are replete with gross-out humour, and could have stood to have appeared once or twice for a few minutes to demonstrate the level of Benjamin’s …er, issues.

I predict this film will have its moment – it will find its community. Funny, weird and sweet Gentlemen Broncos is worth watching and owning.

Did you hear that Internet pundits? I liked it.

* * *

Rated PG-13 for crude humor.

89 minutes

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