out of Five
Running time: 90
It won't appeal to everyone but writer-director Jared Hess' follow-up to Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre is a cult classic in the making, thanks to some wonderful dialogue and a pair of terrific comic performances from Jemaine Clement and Sam Rockwell.
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 plagiarises 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 as heavily bearded space warrior Bronco and Suzanne May as his bald friend Vanaya; Chevalier's bastardised version, with Rockwell camping it up as effete blonde space warrior Brutus; and a micro budget adaptation filmed by Benjamin's new friends Tabatha (Halley Feiffer), Lonnie (Hector Jimenez) and Dusty (Mike White).
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 (co-written with wife Jerusha) 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 only real problem is that Hess overdoes it with some completely unnecessary shit and vomit gags, although there is a weaponised pink vomit effect in the fantasy scenes that almost makes up for the jokes that don't work.
Gentlemen Broncos is a textbook example of a future cult movie – it won't appeal to everyone but it's guaranteed to find a small devoted audience on DVD. Highly recommended.
Gentlemen Broncos (12A)