Comments on watching and making films.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gentlemen Broncos

Jared Hess did something you never want to do with your first film - He made something he would never be able to easily top. Napoleon Dynamite was Hess's debut feature, and it was an atomic bomb blast of comedy that came out of nowhere. He followed it up with the funny, but not as funny Nacho Libre shortly after, and then took some time off before bringing us his newest - Gentlemen Bronco's.

Bronco's centers around a timid young man named Benjamin, played by Michael Angarano, who dreams of becoming a well known sci-fi and fantasy author. His mother, who homeschools Benjamin, is incredibly supportive of his dream, and sends him off to a writing camp, to attend classes that are taught by his hero, Ronald Chevalier (played by Jemaine Clement, who starred in the awesomely hilarious Eagle Vs. Shark). While at the camp, he meets Tabatha and Lonny (both aspiring writers, and Lonny is also an aspiring film director). At the camp, Chevalier announces a contest, and the winner will get their story published. Benjamin enters his own story, one that he has let Tabatha and Lonny read. Chevalier, who is hard up for a new book, reads Benjamin's story and decides to steal it, while Tabatha and Lonny option the story for a movie (and go on to do horrible re-writes). Benjamin now has to face the accusation that he plagiarized his own book, while having to face the embarrassment of Lonny and Tabatha's adaptation of his work being a colossal failure.

Bronco's is not as funny as Napoleon Dynamite, but, then again, what is? I think if you divorce yourself from expecting another Napoleon Dynamite, you can REALLY enjoy this movie, because it really is very funny. Mike White is hilarious in his small role as a big brother type, and Clement is so sleazy, you can't help but laugh. My only complaint is that Michael Angarano has so much potential as an actor, and I feel like this film didn't really take advantage of that. I wanted to see Benjamin really go crazy, and not be so passive about everything.

Hess definitely suffers because of his marriage to a style in this movie, and, like Wes Anderson, would greatly benefit from doing something totally out of his element. David Gordon Green did that with Pineapple Express, and while the results were mixed, it proved that Gordon Green was not just a one trick pony. I'd love to see Hess do a straight up drama or something, just to see if he could pull it off.

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