Gentlemen Broncos (2009) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

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Andrew DISLIKEGentlemen Broncos should be charged with conspiracy to commit murder for wasting the precious time of so many.  Life is short, and the people involved in making this movie should have had better things to do.  Take a long shower.  Perhaps read some of the Great American Novels.  What has been committed to film is the worst movie I’ve seen this year.  The only thing that prevents me from calling it the worst movie of 2010 is the fact that it came out in 2009.  Congratulations 2009, you have a new retroactive champion.

The retro feel is something that the Hess’ have been trying to perfect after scoring big with Napoleon Dynamite.  The humor was awkward but they could at least fake some warmth for the small town atmosphere and Jon Heder proved to be somewhat capable at getting us to laugh.  Then Nacho Libre went into theaters and left just as quickly.

Now the Hess’ have unleashed Gentlemen Broncos, a film that dares you to figure out what the plot is every passing moment.  Is it an examination of the crushing ennui of small town life?  Maybe it’s taking a hard look at how science fiction serves as a platform for social and political satire?  It’s impossible to guess since the central issue of the film isn’t even fully introduced until an hour in.  By that point you’ve had to endure so many puns and variations on the word “anus” that it’s doubtful anyone will still be sitting around waiting for the climax.

The plot, as much as they’ve bothered to give, involves a young science fiction writer, Benjamin (Michael Angarano), who meets his idol Chevalier (Jemaine Clement).  Chevalier is a crushing boor obsessed with the sound vowels make coming from his mouth.  His glory days are long behind him and after reading some of Benjamin's work he plagiarizes it and publishes the tome to rousing success.  In the meantime we’re treated to soul crushing glimpses of small town life at the exchange mart and the world of home schooled children.

This movie does not take place in any recognizable land.  I’m not entirely certain that it’s acted by humans.  No one has any characteristic that could be charitably described as “real”.  They are all porcelain dolls that possess the ability to move and produce sound.  As unsettlingly fake as they all seem, they pale in comparison to the the most unintentionally creepy performance ever by Mr. Hector Jimenez.  His character, Lonnie Donaho, forces his mouth into a formed into a smile/scowl that seems inspired by Japanese Noh theatere.  The expression screams “my face is melting and no one can help me” and is not once funny.

Nothing can prepare you for the horrors his face and voice are capable of.  That the Hess’ decided to put him in equally creepy surrounding suggests a limited level of intelligence and talent on their part.  There’s a sequence where Benjamin is asked to rub as egregious amount of lotion onto the hands of his lady interest Tabatha (Halley Feiffer).  She starts moaning and then Lonnie twists his head around at an awkward angle, puts his mouth next to her ear and starts making sounds that can only be attributed to dying pods of manatees.  The cumulative effect of this scene is already one of disquieting terror and then he starts eating cheese puffs.

No one is safe.  Every actor that chose to be in this suffers immensely.  Jemaine Clement is an incredibly talented man who has yet to be in a single film that isn’t awful.  His Cheavalier is one of the only slightly redeeming aspects of the film and was single handedly responsible for getting me to snort, giggle and laugh once.  But his performance suffers from the same crushing weirdness that everyone else’s does.  For some reason, everyone equates small town speaking to stretching fricative sounds beyond any reasonable measure and making sure pauses are inserted into as many random locations as possible.

Particularly distasteful is the use of science fiction.  The filmmakers show zero appreciation or knowledge for the genre and utilize it as a source of cheap jabs.  Some of the best sci-fi, even trashy pulp, reaches beyond our limitations here and imagines a better world for us.  Or at the very least, critiques what it is that is restraining us here.  In Broncos, we get a fictionalized hero that lost one of his balls, eats yeast for superpowers and spends the time fighting a missile armed Battle Stag.  This is a far cry from Arthur C. Clarke writing of a cylinder filled with octospiders eight feet tall that speak in color and wish to help our species.  Instead they’d just eat our testicles and poop over our clothes.

The only reason anyone thinks that the kid's writing is any good is to propel the film’s plot forward.  I endured it as much as a I could but I must confess that one scene proved too much for me.  After viewing the trailer for a local film he was working on Benjamin goes out into the hotel lobby to vomit.  Tabatha follows him and kisses him for the first time right after he throws up.  Then consumes some of the oatmeal-like matter left behind.

Depending on my diet that day, the idea of eating my own vomit is a lot more appealing than watching Gentlemen Broncos again.  It’s such a colossal misfire on so many levels that you have to wonder what everyone was thinking while it was being filmed.  Some stars have a way of knowing when they’re in a horrible film and develop coping mechanisms.  A number of therapists are sure to have had long, sad talks with the stars and writers.

Maybe it will convince them to pick up another art.  I recommend macaroni design.

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Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

Directed by Jared Hess.
Written by Jared and Jerusha Hess.
Starring Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement and Halley Feiffer.

Posted by Andrew

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