From the creators of Napoleon Dynamite comes…well, a film that’s not really like Napoleon Dynamite. While it boasts the same awkward and quirky atmosphere that the aforementioned quintessential indie hit received, Gentlemen Broncos lacks the originality and humor of Dynamite. Not that anyone really expects Jared Hess to strike lightning twice in quick succession, but Broncos is quite a less friendlier film than his past efforts, with wholly unlikeable characters and the vast majority of the humor stemming from toilet humor (admittedly a great source of entertainment for me, but in this case it didn’t help out much).
Mount your battle stag, grab your popcorn balls and get ready to laugh your gonads off as Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents Gentlemen Broncos on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 2. The director of Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess) and co-star of HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” (Jemaine Clement) team up to bring you the story of Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano), a lovable loner whose life is turned upside down when a pretentious fantasy author steals his story at a writers camp.Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Mike White (School of Rock) join a hysterical cast of oddball characters in this “fun, quirky comedy.” (People)
I greatly enjoyed Hess’s other works, so I was looking forward to this one. In addition I find Jemaine Clement to be an incredibly funny individual, so right away I was hoping for something hilarious. Sadly enough the main story in the film, Clement’s character stealing a book and publishing it as his own from Angarano’s character, doesn’t even start kick in until the film itself is almost over so the two really don’t square off much. Clement is instead mostly isolated and talking in that recessed voice of his, which is always hilarious but never quite enough to pull this film up from mediocrity. And pretty much every storyline having to do with the Benjamin Purvis character is nerve-grating and highly annoying. There’s little about his character that you sympathize with (again, until the later half) and there’s just honestly very few character moments in the film that don’t just feel completely pointless. The “awkward” moments that made Dynamite so hilarious seem forced here; that lotion and ear moaning scene on the bus is definitely funny, but incredibly strange to the point that you almost want to shut the movie off right after it.
That isn’t the only odd thing about the film though. The time period in which it supposedly exists is baffling as well. It feels as if it takes place in the 60s or 70s, but there are cellphones and Bluetooth headsets, so you know it’s fairly modern even though everyone seems to dress in questionable attire. That’s only a minor issue, of course, but it’s just another oddity to add to this film that already is so full of small annoyances already. It becomes an exercise in how many strange, uncomfortable, and just all-around stupid sequences you can tolerate before you need to pause the film to come back to it. And the film is barely over an hour and a half long, so that’s pretty bad if you can’t stand to watch it in one round.
There are redeemable elements to it, however. Notably the “book” sequences with Sam Rockwell. Which are rather sporadic and random considering how they just crop up in the film at times. There are two very different versions of these sequences, one coming from the mind of Angarano’s character and another from Clement’s character. Clement’s is definitely the stranger of the two, but also the funnier (although that vomiting sequence with Angarano’s was hilarious as well). Everything about these sequences is entertaining, from the performances to the dialogue to the…well, everything, really.
But as fun as those bits were, they barely made up probably 10 or 15 minutes of the film (if that). Rest of the time was spent with socially awkward individuals who were rarely entertaining. Héctor Jiménez’s character especially started to get annoying quickly, with an egotistical way about him that just stuck with you until the very end. It just was a very unpleasant, boring, and rarely funny film and as much as I generally enjoy the performers and the directors other works…this is just a real pile.
I took nothing away from this film, other than that disgusting puke/kiss sequence that will probably forever remain engrained into my head. Thanks, Hess. Skip It.
Fox releases Gentlemen Broncos in a standard Eco-Elite Blu-ray case. Zero inserts are included (and neither is a slipcover) and disc art is a mashup of the front and rear cover art. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and…well, that’s it really. It’s a pretty straight forward presentation.
Sadly the AVC encoded 1080p transfer is rather disappointing. The film had a $10 million dollar budget (why?), but it looks like much less than that. Perhaps it’s more to do with the visual palette more than the transfer, but it just seemed to me to be a very uneven and unpleasant mashup. Detail was rarely something that ever stood out to you except on the Sam Rockwell sequences, which were bloated with grain, and everything that happened in the “real world” was just a very muted set of colors. In the end the transfer itself is technically fine, as my issues lay more with the film itself and how it was presented. The transfer did the best it could with what it had, I suppose.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and while you’d think that’d be overkill for this film, it does make use of it on more than a few occasions. Well I shouldn’t say few—it uses it in all of the Sam Rockwell bits, with plenty of surround and subwoofer activity present during those bits. It’s a solid mix all around even back in the “real world,” but you get a much wider field of play with the action sequences. Dialogue is always clean and clear, as is the music (which I must say that opening title sequence was really well done…I wish the rest of the movie was as good).
Outtakes Reel: A Buttload of Keepsakes (8:48, SD)
Five deleted scenes (5:53, SD)
Feature commentary with Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess
One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos (15:29, 1080p)
16 mini-documentaries featuring the cast of Gentlemen Broncos (around a minute each, SD)
The usual array of extras are here, but the deleted scenes and outtakes are both as forgettable as the film. And the commentary? Wow. Talk about dry and boring—these guys are so monotone and unexcited about the film I’d have thought they were just casual viewers recording a commentary rather than the writers/director of it. It was seriously one of the most sleep-inducing tracks I’ve ever heard. The remaining documentaries are fun to watch just for actor input, but other than that you’ll be hard pressed to even want to check these out after watching the boring mediocrity that was the film.
As far as this one goes you can go ahead and Skip It. I loved Napoleon Dynamite, but this one just didn’t work for me.
Gentlemen Broncos is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.