October 14, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre), Gentlemen Broncos is set in Utah and stars Michael Angarano as 17-year-old aspiring science fiction writer Benjamin, who lives with his widowed mother (Jennifer Coolidge) and occasionally helps her with her ambition to become a nightgown designer. When Benjamin attends Cletus Fest (“the best writer's camp in Utah”) he's thrilled to meet his idol, celebrated science fiction author Dr Ronald Chevalier (Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement, channelling Michael York) but his elation is short-lived when Chevalier plagiarizes Benjamin's novel Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years and passes it off as his own.

Meanwhile, three different versions of Yeast Lords play out on screen: Benjamin's original version, with Sam Rockwell (one of the finest actors of our generation) as heavily bearded space warrior Bronco and Suzanne May as his bald friend Vanaya; Chevalier's bastardised version, with Rockwell camping it up as blonde space warrior Brutus; and a micro budget adaptation filmed by Benjamin's new friends Tabatha, Lonnie and Dusty.

The Good Parts
Michael Angarano is perfectly cast as Benjamin, whose softly-spoken, generally passive demeanour gradually gives way to a burning sense of justice. There's also strong support from Coolidge, White and The Squid and the Whale's Halley Feiffer but the film is roundly stolen by a pair (actually a trio, if you count Rockwell's dual roles) of wonderful comic performances from Rockwell and Clement.

Hess' script is packed with quotable lines and there are several hilarious scenes. Indeed, every moment Chevalier is on screen is pure comedy gold. The film is further heightened by a superb soundtrack and Richard A. Wright's appealingly quirky production design.

The Best Part
Two separate spontaneous shit and vomit gags had me rolling on the floor laughing. Just imagine a weaponized pink vomit effect spraying down a flying stag with missile launchers. Well... maybe not the best part, but pretty close, Ronald Chevalier describing how to create sci-fi character names was quite priceless also.

Worth seeing?
Gentlemen Broncos is a textbook example of a future cult movie – it won't appeal to everyone (according to rotten tomatoes, only 18% of people) but it's guaranteed to find a small devoted audience on DVD.

I highly recommend it.

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