Gentlemen Broncos Review: A Good Concept Without Solid Comedic Delivery or Narrative Substance

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When Napoleon Dynamite received an exorbitant amount of over hyped praise for what was an above average exploitation of awkward humor and juxtaposing personality with appearance, Jared and Jarusha Hess were given the opportunity of a lifetime: to make decently budgeted films in Hollywood with no creative restrictions. Their standard for exceedingly dry comedy was matched with their second humorous installment Nacho Libre, which had some noticeably minor faults but was a delightful film in its entirety. Given their track record one would expect Jared and Jarusha to deliver on their ability to make incessantly awkward moments mesh with their seemingly unbelievable characters, apparently based on autobiographical encounters and acquaintances. But the husband and wife duo’s newest film, Gentlemen Broncos, not only lacks basic comedic timing and relevance but it also lacks any character or narrative substance that would make any audience member actually care for any of the film’s qualities as it gets more bizarre with every passing scene.

Awkward comedy or odd characters are nothing new to comedy and there are many successes to prove that these elements work. But the script for Gentlemen Broncos is filled with characters that are beyond unbelievable that their reactions, emotions, and overall demeanor accentuate an unfortunate barrier that doesn’t allow any easy opening into the strange and alienating world created by Jared and Jarusha. The real world, when compared to the fantastical B-movie effects driven imaginary world within the film, seems ever more unlikely as each new and ever stranger character is introduced. Gentlemen Bronco’s protagonist, an innocently effective Michael Angarano, is a home schooled child who writes science-fiction novellas in honor of his deceased father’s memory. His stories, which are forcefully atrocious, are never criticized nor does the film ever hint to the notion that they are bad, which is probably the most witty aspect of the entire narrative. However, that doesn’t stop his story from being stolen by his washed up idol, science-fiction extraordinaire Ronald Chevalier, portrayed by the appropriately dry and witty Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords fame. The concept of Benjamin battling for interpretive truthfulness with his fellow “friends,” making the film into a low budget movie, and the up hill battle against Chavalier for plagiarism is humorous when read off paper. But the final product is anything but funny and lacks the seemingly original touch that the filmmaking couple’s first two projects seemed to possess.

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With each scene filled with uncomfortable dialogue, awkward glances, and unbelievable scenarios, the film has a rough time delivering on their intended jokes. The characters are the essential part of the film’s main comedic qualities, but unlike Napoleon Dynamite or even Nacho Libre, these character’s personalities aren’t as finely developed for their obvious idiosyncrasies to mesh with the script’s implausibility. Every scene seems stretched as each exaggerated gross out sequence commences, whether being kissed after throwing up at an intentionally god-awful movie scene or a snake unexpectedly defecating on a shirt. Gross out humor works if used properly, such as Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life or even Team America, but the situations unfold as the characters relevance or our sympathy for their pitiful nature move further away. All of these unattractive and unflattering characters and scenes, captured in just that way by cinematographer Munn Powell, are good for just a few smirks of laughter but lack any memorable qualities that would make them substantial displays of comedy. That is not the fault of the actors, but the undisciplined and unchallenged script’s fault.

Despite the abundance of forced awkwardness and fantastical characters there is something to admire in the cast. While their characters aren’t necessarily anything to remember there are some moments in the film that wouldn’t have worked without their delivery. This goes especially for the only likeable quality of the film in Jemaine Clement. His egotistical dialect and unremitting pomposity make each scene he’s in particularly enjoyable. Either advising students on how to make better character names (by adding “inous, enous, or anous” to them) or wearing a Native American necklace while he is creating all make for humorous blips in the forgettable narrative mess that the film inevitably becomes. The typical character quirks that made Nacho Libre work for Jack Black’s idealistic naivety or Jon Heder’s unquestioned nerdy confidence is lacking in the character’s throughout Gentlemen Broncos, who lack any sense of their mediocre lives yet possess no strong personality traits to off set it. This applies to all of the characters except the humorous appearances from Dr. Ronald Chevalier.

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However, mere moments or one well done character cannot make a film enjoyable especially when the entire narrative is stretched for any significant laughter in character’s that lack any humorous or believable qualities. The select strengths from the Hess’s previous films are blatantly non-existent making the film unlikable and unbearable in its final product. Gentlemen Broncos lacks substance, relevant well delivered comedy, and appropriately developed characters, making the film difficult to sit through each passing forceful awkward moment. There is nothing enjoyable about writing these criticisms about two writers who constantly delve into unfamiliar territory and use these eccentricities to make enjoyable dry comedies. But when a film is revoltingly awful in conceptual delivery, such as Gentlemen Broncos, than all that is left is criticism to be made, especially in regards to character maturity, comedic substance, and narrative discipline. This an entirely passable film despite it’s original and potentially humorous concept.

Grade: D

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Comments
2 Responses to “Gentlemen Broncos Review: A Good Concept Without Solid Comedic Delivery or Narrative Substance”
  1. Juan Carlos says:

    For the last few weeks you have narrowed your choice in films. I have never even hear of the films you have reviewed you should broaden your choices to increase more discourse among your readers. LOL

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Just tries to be quirky, and odd while forgetting ever to be funny. It’s a bummer that the cast tries their hardest, because they are just let down by this dumb script.

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