Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Gentlemen Broncos is No Napoleon Dynamite


Review by Mark David Campbell

Napoleon Dynamite was one of my favorite movies of this decade.  It was just the right amount of quirky, eclectic and funny.  I went into Gentlemen Broncos, the latest film from Napoleon director Jared Hess with similar expectations. 

Damned expectations.  I expected a multi-layered comedy.  I got one, yes, but unfortunately, both of those layers truly sucked.

Michael Angarano (the kid from Forbidden Kingdom) plays Benjamin, a Utah teen who is an aspiring sci-fi writer.  During a stint at writers’ camp, he bangs off a manuscript called “Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years”, which he later submits to his literary hero, supercilious author Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement).  Unbeknownst to Michael, Chevalier’s career has taken a downward turn and he is facing an imminent deadline, so he decides to rip off Michael’s story.

The book goes on to become a bestseller, which sparks an all-out war between the two.  Grounds for truly quirky comedy?  Very much so, which makes me all the more disappointed in what I got instead.  For you see, Gentlemen Broncos’ sense of realism is amped up so high it bordered on farce, and the dialogue was far too strange to be taken seriously, as it was far too dependent on scatological humor, if you know what I mean.

Apart from that, we are also treated to visual depictions of both Michael’s original story and Ronald’s plagiarized version.  In those sequences, I was forced to watch Sam Rockwell playing the story’s hero in a series of horrible wigs and speak in even more horrible accents.  And obnoxious?  Rockwell has pulled that characteristic off before, but here it just seems so ill-timed and unnecessary.

About the only positive thing I can say about this film is that Michael Angarano is a young actor that shows a lot of promise for the future.  Too bad the rest of the so-called “veteran” cast showed absolutely none.

1 ½ / 5 stars

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