A teenager attends a fantasy writers' convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.
It must be said that you know when you are watching a Jared Hess film; the aesthetic of the shots, the leisurely but not sluggish pace, the incessant bizarreness that is pulled from the ritual and mundane lives of ordinary but, equally, extraordinary characters. Each of these traits are well-covered in every one of his directorial efforts; Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre and now Gentlemen Broncos.
In Gentlemen Broncos, Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) is that charming introvert geek character that is becoming more and more prevalent in teen movies. Here, he is a cross between Jon Heder (in Napoleon Dynamite form) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Benjamin is a writer of Sci-Fi novels. It is seemingly his way to escape the bizarre surroundings of his life; he lives in a house shaped liked a golf ball and is home-schooled by a mother (Jennifer Coolidge) who appears to be unsuccessfully creating outfits for Lady Gaga. The pride and joy of his Sci-Fi collection is titled ‘Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years’.
On an apparent unusual venture from his surroundings, Ben heads off to ‘Cletus Fest’, a writing festival in Utah, where he meets some fellow budding writers and filmmakers (who each have there own oddities). It is here that he encounters his literary hero, Dr Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), who wrote a best-selling Sci-Fi trilogy while he was still a teenager but is now struggling to come up with any publishable ideas. So, when Benjamin enters his coveted ‘Yeast Lords’ into the competition, Chevalier steals the work for himself, renaming it ‘The Chronicles of Brutus and Balzaak’ and finally pleasing his publishers. When, Benjamin then sells two of his new-found ‘friends’ the rights to ‘Yeast Lords’ to make it into a lower-than-bargain-basement film, both versions reach the public domain.
There are many funny moments in Gentlemen Broncos which mainly involve Jemaine Clement in a role that is world’s apart from his Flight of the Conchords character (albeit working within a similar environment). The difference between that show and Gentlenmen Broncos, however, is that the former manages to use a little kookiness to go a long way while there are times here when the film may just be a bit too kooky, a bit too bizarre to work (Héctor Jiménez’s Lonnie Donahue character is a case in point).
There are spells of rich dialogue, similar to the ‘Lyger’ conversations in Napoleon Dynamite (especially in the film-within-a-film sequences) but there are occasions when the film is dragged by Hess’ persistence to make the action as slow and humdrum as possible. But then, that same aesthetic, the leisurely pace and the same range, albeit slightly odder, characters remain so, if you are a fan of Jared Hess’ back catalogue, you will no doubt find Gentlemen Broncos a more than worthy addition.