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Jared Hess
Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Halley Feiffer, Hector Jimenez, Jennifer Coolidge
Writing Credits:
Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess

Mount your battle stag, grab a popcorn ball and get ready to laugh your head off at Gentlemen Broncos! The director of Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess) and co-star of 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 and Mike White join a hysterical cast of oddball characters in Gentlemen Broncos.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$30.553 thousand on 12 screens.
Domestic Gross
$113.155 thousand.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/2/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Jared Hess, Writer Jerusha Hess and Director of Photography Munn Powell
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes Reel
• “One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos” Featurette
• 18 “Mini-Docs”
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Gentlemen Broncos [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 25, 2010)

After the success of Napoleon Dynamite, director Jared Hess got a shot at bigger-budget filmmaking with Nacho Libre. That film failed to find much of an audience, and Hess’s third effort – 2009’s Gentlemen Broncos - fared even worse. It got a limited theatrical release and crept onto home video with very little fanfare.

Though I didn’t care for his first two flicks, I thought I’d give Broncos a shot before I totally gave up on Hess as a filmmaker. Nerdy teen Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) aspires to write sci-fi novels, and he comes up with a short story called Yeast Lords. Benjamin goes to a short writer’s camp for home-school kids.

There he gets to see a speech from his idol, novelist Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement) – and more. Chevalier announces a contest in which the winning writer will receive a 1000-copy distribution printing of the work with cover art created by the revered author himself. Desperate for a new idea, Chevalier comes across Benjamin’s story and steals it.

In the meantime, Benjamin gets to know Tabatha (Halley Feiffer), a fellow writer he meets at the convention. She works with Lonnie (Hector Jimenez), an aspiring filmmaker who wants to adapt Yeast Lords into a flick. Benjamin has to deal with these various threats to his artistic aspirations.

That’s it – I’m officially done with Jared Hess. I gave his three shots to deliver a good – or even mediocre movie – and each time he created something that only met varying levels of awfulness. I guess I should give Hess credit for consistency: he makes thoroughly awful, unfunny films.

And ones that try to stretch the most minimal comedic ideas to feature length. When I reviewed Nacho and Napoleon, I noted that both came across as 10-minute comedy skits extended to 90 minutes or so. This problem also befalls the slow, tedious Broncos, though I’m not sure it even boasts a mildly interesting sketch idea.

All three Hess films revolve around one main character, but unlike Napoleon and Nacho, Benjamin is incredibly passive. Until the movie’s end, he does almost nothing as events swirl around him. Actually, “swirl” is an awful term to use since very little happens in the story. The plot is sketchy at best, and mostly the characters just engage in various comedic attempts.

“Swirl” may’ve been the wrong choice, but “comedic attempts” is perfect – and “comedic failures” is even better. For the most part, Hess attempts to wring laughs out of Broncos via three methods: gags about bodily functions, hairstyles and fashions. In terms of the first one, this is a film that features a huge snake with diarrhea. If you find that idea funny, have a blast – I think the reality is even less amusing than the concept.

As for the hair and clothes jokes, those echo the outdated design found in Napoleon. For reasons that never come across, most of the characters in Broncos sport fashions popularized in the 1980s. The movie clearly takes place in present day, as we hear references to the Internet and see some more modern technology. Nonetheless, we see many 80s related outfits/haircuts. We even view characters as they speak on large, clunky cordless phones.

Perhaps this is Hess’s attempt to spoof the lack of style found in his native Utah, the setting for Broncos and Napoleon. Or maybe it’s just his stab at stupid, anachronistic laughs. I’d bet on the latter. Hess never met a cheap, pointless joke he didn’t like.

He also can’t figure out to write or tell a story. Granted, I’m not sure he’s ever attempted an actual narrative, though I think he tried a bit harder in his earlier flicks. Here he doesn’t even bother to pretend that there’s an actual plot. The film just minces through vaguely connected comedic ideas without a care in the world.

On the surface, Broncos looks more in tune with the low-key quirks of Napoleon, and in many ways it is. However, I think the emphasis on cheap genital and excrement jokes shows that Hess “learned” something from his experience on Nacho. It’s like Broncos offers the worst of both worlds.

Broncos manages to waste some talented actors. Jennifer Coolidge shows up as Benjamin’s mom and throws out possibly the worst performance of her career. Sam Rockwell – probably present here due to some form of blackmail – plays Bronco in the scenes that act out the novels. He’s not awful, but he can’t do anything with the atrocious material. Sure, the Yeast story is supposed to be bad, but Hess can’t mine any mocking laughs with the footage, and the same is true for Lonnie’s version of the tale; all make fun of lame movies/novels but they generate no humor.

If forced to pick a saving grace, I’d go with Clement’s pompous performance as Chevalier. He never tries to make the role a real person, and that works, as he captures the author’s smug pretensions. He can’t rescue the movie – heck, he can’t even produce a chuckle due to the relentlessly idiotic source material – but his turn stands out as the sole borderline engaging part of the film. (It may qualify as ironic that Clement starred in Eagle Vs. Shark, a relentlessly atrocious flick in the Napoleon vein; that one was so awful it almost made me recant my criticism of Hess’s breakout film.)

At 89 minutes, Broncos overstays its welcome by a good 80 minutes. I’m not sure how such a brief film can seem so long, but this stinker drags and bores all the way. Slow, stupid and unfunny, the movie offers nothing of worth.

If you make it to the finish of the film, you may want to stick around through the end credits, as you’ll find a little “Bronco” coda.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Gentlemen Broncos appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Most of the transfer seemed solid, though a few minor exceptions occurred.

Some of those impacted sharpness. Although the majority of the flick showed good clarity and delineation, occasional soft spots developed. These stayed rare, however, as the movie usually seemed concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear. In terms of print flaws, I saw a speck or two but nothing more substantial.

Broncos went with a pleasing natural palette. The film exhibited rich hues that always looked nice and full. Blacks were dark and tight, but shadows seemed a little murky. Low-light shots didn’t appear terribly dense, but they lacked great clarity. Still, the image was usually quite positive and it deserved a “B”.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Broncos, it went with a subdued environment most of the time. The main exceptions stemmed from the sequences that acted out Benjamin’s story or Chevalier’s version of it. Those went with action elements that opened up the room in a satisfying manner.

No other involving segments occurred, however. The rest of the flick stayed low-key and failed to deliver any memorable elements. Actually, one scene with shooting gave us a little pizzazz, but most of the film stayed with general ambience.

Audio quality was perfectly fine. Music showed nice vivacity and range, and effects showed nice clarity. Those elements were always accurate and clear, and the few examples of notable bass response seemed deep. Speech appeared concise and intelligible. Nothing special occurred here, but those sci-fi sequences boosted the track to “B-“ status.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director/writer Jared Hess, writer Jerusha Hess and director of photography Munn Powell. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat about influences and story issues, cast and performances, sets and locations, and a few other production topics.

For the most part, the Hesses and Powell offer a fairly dull discussion. A few interesting elements appear, especially when we hear about some real-life inspirations for movie elements. However, much of the movie goes by with pretty banal remarks; actual insight remains infrequent.

Five Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 53 seconds. These include “Cup Size” (0:52), “As a Husband and Wife Should” (1:18), “Face Massage” (0:39), “Brutus’ Cave” (1:13) and “Daysius Confrontation” (1:51). The first two show more from Lonnie’s movie shoots, while “Massage” lets us see Dusty with Benjamin’s mom. The final two give us more of the acted-out novel sequences. None of this are remotely amusing or interesting.

An Outtakes Reel goes for eight minutes, 48 seconds. Outside of a few improv lines, this is pretty standard goofs and giggles territory. Almost nine minutes of that material seems like too much.

Next comes a featurette called One Nutty Movie: Behind the Scenes of Gentlemen Broncos. In this 15-minute, 29-second piece, we get occasional soundbites about different circumstances, but the majority of the program shows footage from the set. This makes it more interesting than expected. While I can’t say we learn a ton about the shoot, the emphasis on behind the scenes bits adds some value.

18 Mini-Docs last a total of 22 minutes, 21 seconds. Though the word “docs” implies these will be informative pieces, most of them are just little bits of inanity from the set. We learn about Mike White’s bright teeth, the use of turkey testicles, and the contents of the craft services table. A few interesting elements appear, but “One Nutty Movie” proves more effective; these clips are just too dopey most of the time.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Whip It, (500) Days of Summer and Fame (2009). No trailer for Broncos shows up here.

I’ve had all I can stands – I can’t stands no more! I gave Jared Hess three attempts to make an enjoyable movie, and he failed miserably on each occasion. Gentlemen Broncos is probably the worst of the bunch, a stinker that may fall even lower on my scale than Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. The Blu-ray offers good picture, acceptable audio and an inconsistent but decent set of supplements. While I have no complaints about this Blu-ray, the movie itself is completely awful.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main