Gentlemen Broncos (Blu-ray)
GENTLLEMEN BRONCOS officially receives the 2009 award for best preview to worst movie ratio. The way the preview was put together, I found myself really excited about this film and I was anxious to sit down and watch it. But the actual act of watching it was excruciatingly painful. So I give a big “bravo” to the editors of the trailer for doing so much with so very little. The saddest part about this film is that it felt like they had a really funny story, but decided to destroy it in an attempt to make it quirky.
Michael Angarano is Benjamin, a shy, home-schooled teenager that likes to write science-fiction stories in his spare time. He gets the chance of a lifetime when he submits his latest work in a contest to be judged by famed science fiction writer Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement). But Chevalier is struggling to come up with ideas of his own and in an act of desperation, steels Ben’s idea and submits it to his publishers as his own. Meanwhile, Benjamin allows Lonnie, a local filmmaker played by Hector Jimenez, to make a movie of his story, which Lonnie proceeds to destroy on every level.
Poor Ben can’t catch a break and neither can Michael Angarano. I’m a big fan of Angarano (I’d like to see him as Spider-Man), but the kid can’t choose a decent movie to save his life. He did a fine job here, but director-writer Jared Hess was obsessed with making this like NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE and altered the story too much in order to fit that style. The difference is that his previous film had a story that could only be filmed in that offbeat manner, but Broncos never had that tone and so the filmmaking and the story were constantly battling each other. The result was an awkward mess of a movie that was neither funny nor quirky. I did appreciate the cut scenes of Sam Rockwell acting out the story that Ben wrote. It was horribly bad, but that was part of the joke. However, a better joke would have been to make the story funny.
That’s not to say that this script would have been better off in the hands of another director, because it wouldn’t have been. Too much time was spent on aspects of the story that were neither interesting nor humorous. The highlight of the film was the relationship between Benjamin and Chevalier, but Chevalier had maybe 15 minutes of screen time and the rest of the film was focused on other character relationships that we didn’t care about. Jemaine Clement has proven his comedic abilities on HBO’s ‘Flight of the Conchords’ and should have been given more room to shine in this. He had a funny character and there were numerous possibilities between his character and Benjamin. The thought of a published writer stealing the work of a teenager is a good premise, so it’s very disappointing that it was executed so poorly.
I wish I could say there was at least one redeeming quality to GENTLEMEN BRONCOS, but I cannot. I’m a fan of Jemaine Clement and he provided some mild chuckles, but it was too little and underutilized. Jared Hess can do better than this, but if he insists on making every movie a slightly varied rendition of NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE, I’m afraid his film career will be short lived.
Commentary with Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess and Munn Powell: Wow, this commentary was bad. I’m not just saying that because the film was bad, but these three weren’t enthusiastic at all about this film and provided no energy or liveliness to the track at all. There were several dead spots and few interesting tidbits.
Deleted Scenes (5:53): These are just as bad as the movie and added nothing extra to the film. Boring and a waste of time and were all a bit short. We get a bit more of Ms. Coolidge and some more from Sam Rockwell but nothing special.
Outtakes Reel: A Buttload of Keepsakes (8:48):These were terrible too and were more boring than anything. Since the movie wasn’t funny I don’t know why they thought it necessary to have an outtakes reel but whatever. A lot of flubbed lines and cut shots. The only partially entertaining thing was seeing more of Jemaine Clement but even he wasn’t in it enough to make it worthwhile.
One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentleman Broncos (15:27): A typical behind the scene featurette with nothing special but at least it wasn’t as full of movie clips as some of these types of extras seem to be. Nonetheless, it was boring and was as painful to watch as the movie itself. Some interviews from cast and crew.
Mini-Docs (21:23): These are several small featurettes that cover various aspects of the film, but mostly feature random cast and crew members making jokes and having fun. They remind me of webisodes that you see for bigger films in that they’re quick and they give a little glimpse into the making of the film.