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Movie Review

Gentlemen Broncos

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some crude humor.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Comedy Drama
1 hr. 29 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 30, 2009 (limited)
DVD: March 9, 2010
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Lying in the Bible

Stealing in the Bible



The final judgment of God

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
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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
Director: Jared Hess
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.

Objectionable Content

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).

Final Thoughts

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Refreshingly original and insanely hilarious, personally I found this film to be just as good as “Napoleon Dynamite” (which is one of my favorites)—and much better than “Nacho Libre,” although comparing art is difficult, because each piece is different and frankly, another “Napoleon Dynamite” would be boring.

I love that while “Gentlemen Broncos” has the same signature style, it is its own entity and completely different. While it won’t be to everyone’s particular taste, and I have to say I didn’t think to mine either, at first, it certainly doesn’t deserve the negative reviews it is getting. This movie has so much depth and detail that, after watching it three times, I was still discovering and laughing. It is a brilliant story, purposely filmed in Hess “retro” style, perfectly cast and surprisingly heartwarming.

To place it in a particular demographic is difficult, there are people of all ages who are able to appreciate and understand the humor and story. I agree that it may not be for young children as the technical information regarding possible objectionable content is pretty accurate, although I didn’t find the lotion scene to be sensual/sexual at all, it seemed to me that the character was just trying to relax, not to have an erotic experience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Angela, age 31 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—“Gentlemen Broncos” is a mess of a film. It is a very bizarre, sometimes confusing, and incredibly hilarious mess. It is an acquired taste, and I would not blame anyone who hates this movie. This movie is funny because of its 'stupid humor', shock humor, and surreal humor.

Production Values: Jared and Jerusha Hess wrote, produced, and directed this film. They are best known for other offbeat films such as “Napoleon Dynamite” and 'Nacho Libre'. “Gentlemen Broncos” takes their quirky sense of humor to a whole new level. This film is basically a series of random ideas that they thought were funny. Only avid fans of Hess’s previous work will truly enjoy this movie. It is very indulgent on the part of the moviemakers.

Moral Value: This film is rated PG-13, unlike their much cleaner films that they have made in the past. It is not, however, not a hard PG-13. It has gotten that rating due to ridiculously immature humor about poop and boogers and a few references to testicles. Over all it is much cleaner that many PG-13 comedies today.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—William S., age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
…“Gentlemen Broncos” treats all its characters like jokes, and they’re unfunny jokes at that. …
—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
…seems dedicated to fetishizing the offbeat at any cost. In the case of his latest film, that cost is particularly steep, as it includes humor, inventiveness, and a general sense of purpose. …
—Andrew Schenker, Slant Magazine
…Napoleon Dynamite seems perfectly well-adjusted (not to mention downright charismatic) compared to homeschooled mama’s boy Benjamin Purvis in “Gentlemen Broncos,”…
—Peter Debruge, Variety
…a misfire… I began to wonder how many evacuations a comedy can deliver before they ruin the joke. The spray of vomit that inspired this question had just shot out of the mouth of the hapless teenager at the center of the new movie, an emission preceded or followed by (I lost track) a geyser of snake feces and some nonreptilian, if equally repellent, defecation. …
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
……Being a traditional coming of age picture underneath, it also mixes a sweet, morally salubrious outcome with strangeness and gross-out humor. … “Gentlemen Broncos” is less warped than it thinks it is yet still provides enough bizarre, painstakingly designed schlock to tickle the willing. …
—John P. McCarthy, Boxoffice Magazine
…Too many hitches in its giddyap… If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d swear that Gentlemen Broncos was made by a disaffected high school student—and not a particularly talented one. …
—Claudia Puig, USA Today