Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
|Featuring:||Sam Rockwell (Bronco/Brutus), Michael Angarano, John Baker, Robin Ballard, Steve Berg, Jemaine Clement, Kristie Conway, Jennifer Coolidge, Rod Decker, Isaac Demke, Halley Feiffer, Johnny Hoops, Héctor Jiménez, Jizelle Jade Jurquina, Daniel Love, Suzanne May, Edgar Oliver, Josh Pais, John Pleshette, Jeanette Puhich, Clive Revill, Isaac Russell, Jon Shere, Brian Unger, Edward Osborn, Benji Hughes, Mike White, Roger Dertinger, Johnny Ahn, Beau Dunn, Larry Filion, Matt Jordon, Toiya Leatherwood, Heather Kelly McShane, Ben Naccarato, Jacob Shamy, Patrick Zook|
|Producer:||Rip Cord Productions, Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, John J. Kelly, Ben LeClair, Duff Rich, Mike White|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.|
“From the director of ‘Nacho Libre’ and ‘Napolean Dynamite’ comes another unique view of the world.”
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a very private, unassuming young man who has been home-schooled his whole life by his doting mother. He is also an aspiring sci-fi writer whose life will never be the same when, one day, he travels to a writers convention whose special guest is his idol, legendary fantasy novelist Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement).
Encouraged by Tabitha (Halley Feiffer), another home-schooler, Ben submits his latest work, Yeast Lords, to the convention’s writing contest, being judged by Chevalier. Thinking his submission lost, he jumps at an offer made by Tabitha’s male friend Lonnie (Hector Jiménez), a local amateur filmmaker, to make his book into a movie.
What Ben doesn’t know is that Chevalier, who hasn’t had a hit novel in years, in desperation has stolen his book and, with a few changes, has turned it into his latest best seller. So, while Ben is trying to help his mom with her clothing business, he has to contend with watching his work turn into a disastrous low budget film, as well as seeing his former idol stage a huge comeback using his story.
Language: The Lord’s name is never taken in vain, with “Oh My Gosh” refreshingly used instead. There is one instance where a fictional character goes “Ape S__” and though the final consonant is cut off, the curse is still understood. Frustrated over what Lonnie is doing to his story, Ben exclaims “he is bastardizing my script!” A character is called a ‘b__hole’.
Sex/Nudity: There is no nudity, but sexual situations are a frequent undercurrent of the movie. In one case, while on the school bus, Tabitha asks Ben for a hand massage with lotion, and while he innocently complies Lonnie moans into her ear while she has an erotic experience.
During the convention, Chevalier shows artwork he did when he was 11 and 15, consisting of harpies in thongs and equipped with laser-firing mammary cannons. He, also, turns the rugged male hero from Ben’s story into an effeminate transvestite.
Lonnie, the amateur director, also plays the female costar of his film project and sports exaggerated breasts, which are said to be due to the abundance of yeast on the planet.
Judith (Jennifer Coolidge), Ben’s mom, gets Dusty, a ‘guardian angel’ volunteer from church, to act as an older male role model for Ben. Dusty lets Ben know he thinks his mom is hot. Playing with his angel’s ‘poison dart’ shooter, Ben accidentally shoots his mom in her breast, but she is uninjured, thanks to her bra’s gel insert. Judith is given an opportunity to sell her dresses nationwide, but when she is told she has to sleep with the buyer to ‘seal the deal,’ she instead leaves in tears.
Ben sells his mother’s ornamental balls on the street, two-to-a-bag, that bear a resemblance in form to testicles, and he is understandably embarrassed because of this.
Violence: Dusty’s ‘poison’ dart gun is used on Judith (accidentally), and against another unsavory character who shoots at Ben with a gun.
Comic, sci-fi violence is common during visualizations of Ben’s/Chevalier’s stories, including a pet cat that gnaws on a villain’s neck, talk of removing gonads (plus the sewing of them back on-not shown), explosions and other mild battle perils.
Religious: The mom, showing Christian sensibilities, is painted as somewhat eccentric and naïve. The home-schoolers are likewise seen as odd balls, especially Tabitha and Lonnie.
In a separate category, Ben vomits upon seeing himself on screen during the premier, and, in a very gross move, Tabitha kisses him right after this. A snake defecates on Dusty. Bronco, the character in the book, fights off a ‘battle doe’ with impossibly exaggerated vomiting. Keep in mind these are some of the ‘funny’ scenes.
Dr. Chevalier is clearly the principle villain of the story. His pride crosses well into the area of arrogance. Added to that, his theft of Ben’s story and the measures he takes to protect his illicit gain, and he lives up to three (3) of the things we are told God hates:
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush to evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
As in real life, he is presented several opportunities to correct this wrong, but he fails to do so at every turn.
Ben finds himself not being paid by either Chevalier or Lonnie. There are many in the world today who feel that this is ‘no big deal,’ as everyone gets cheated from time to time. Certainly, in the case of the amateur director, Lonnie, it wasn’t that much money, but God, ever caring of our wellbeing, is clear in his Word about admonishing employers (among others), who do this:
“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me, says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:5).
In a telling ‘interview’ of Chevalier, he says that it doesn’t matter what people do to your work, if you are paid. “Cash that check immediately. Enjoy your money. I mean isn’t that why we do what we do… for the money, for the riches of the Earth.” This ‘living for the moment,’ without principles, is reminiscent of the end of the parable Jesus told of the rich fool who hoards his gain, preparing for a future that only God can control.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).
Ben’s writings celebrated the life of his long dead father through the heroic character he created of Bronco. By this, and the helping of his mother to sell dresses everyday, he lived up to the fifth commandment from God, which, interestingly, is also the only one to carry with it a promise:
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
Jared Hess, the director and co-writer of “Gentlemen Broncos,” has created a movie that, in its slow pacing, is not nearly as entertaining as his “Nacho Libre” and shows only modest improvement in story telling from his first effort, the cult classic “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Opting instead to present ‘realistic,’ but awkward, situations, with only a few emotional payoffs, “…Broncos” is indeed a bizarre and quirky film, and, as such, one with limited appeal—perhaps those that thought “Napoleon Dynamite” was great. Not appropriate for younger viewers, it won’t hold the attention of the teen and adult audience for which it was made. I may not have given up and ‘walked out’ on the film, but the thought did cross my mind more than once. Pass on “…Broncos,” even on DVD.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.