Monday, November 23, 2009
I went in hoping against hope it was a hidden comedy gem, but if Gentlemen Broncos is misunderstood, I have to count myself among the ignorant. Moments of hilarity are scattered throughout the movie like "peanuts in crap" (references to "crap" abound), and I'd love to make a minisode capturing them. Problem is, you have to sit through a lot of awkwardness to reach the good stuff. I spent most of the viewing incredibly tense and wishing I knew what the point was. When you watch actors like Jemaine Clement and Sam Rockwell saying and doing corny things, there is enjoyment to be had. Yet overall the movie is so self-consciously bad you end up wondering why anybody bothered. Sure, I went through an Ed Wood phase like everybody else. What fascinates there is how Wood could be so sincerely misguided. In the case of Gentlemen Broncos, writer/director Jared Hess knows the script and production are awful. I was robbed even of mystification, which has comedy value, it really does.
Jared Hess wrote and directed Napoleon Dynamite, another awkward comedy. Vastly popular, it connected with the audience by being weird and entertaining. I still laugh at Uncle Rick saying he'll throw a football over the mountains. Hess must have used his reputation with this box office success to make more movies. I haven't seen his second, Nacho Libre, thanks to Jack Black fatigue, but it didn't do well and couldn't be the reason actors signed on for Gentlemen Broncos. Maybe he plied them with narcotics and prostitutes? There must be some rational explanation.
Best quote of the movie unsurprisingly comes from Jemaine Clement, pitching a new idea for a novel to his publisher, who is threatening to "let him go" (a funny idea sadly unexplored) unless he comes up with another blockbuster sci-fi trilogy. He has made his fame as Dr Ronald Chevalier writing about cyber harpies with mammory cannons. "There's a fetus," he says earnestly into the phone, "discovered on the moon. A moon fetus." He waits pensively, knowing the idea is crap but counting on his reputation to make it work. The publisher doesn't respond but just hangs up on him. I wish I could have hung up on this movie.