Published Nov 05, 2009When it comes to reviewing films, I'm not really one for lofty proclamations. But here's one: Gentlemen Broncos is conclusively the worst film of 2009. And this, you'll recall, has been the year of Orphan, Dance Flick and Revenge of the Fallen. It makes Blart look like art.
Directed (barely) by Jared Hess from a skid mark of a script he co-wrote with wife Jerutha, Gentlemen Broncos returns to the desperately quirky, diorama-like landscapes of Napoleon Dynamite. Hoping to recreate the sleeper success of Dynamite, Hess again trades in abstruse characters assailed by the doldrums of the everyday. Ostensibly, it tells the story of a teenage sci-fi nerd named Benjamin (Michael Angarona), whose genre novella is plagiarized by his uninspired novelist idol (Flight of the Concords' Jemaine Clement).
But narrative is a peripheral concern. What Hess is struggling to do is probe for beauty, or at least some whiff of recognition, in the left fields of Americana. Like Harmony Korine or David Gordon Green, Hess wants us to look at Benji or his snake-charming, Church-sponsored mentor (Mike White) and see something akin to our shared sense of humanity.
What Hess doesn't understand is that people, no matter how unapologetically "real," don't behave like this. Kids, no matter how immersed in their personal fantasy worlds, aren't this oblivious. Moms don't gift their children plot contrivances for their birthday. Grown men don't gape vacantly when pythons defecate on their egg-white pullovers. Ugliness — even honest ugliness — doesn't necessarily equal beauty. Hess's approach is so ass-backwards it's a marvel he managed to make something as passably entertaining as Nacho Libre.
If you really have to waste ten-or-so dollars this weekend, there are unessential surgeries you could endure that would be more pleasant than watching Gentlemen Broncos. I'd personally opt for getting some extra digits grafted to my hand so I could give this the 12 thumbs down it has justly earned. (Fox Searchlight)