'Broncos' will take you on one wild ride

Posted: November 13, 2009

It's hard to imagine Jared Hess, the auteur behind Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, taking his deadpan nerd fantasies further than Gentlemen Broncos. Where do you go after rocket-propelled deer statuary, cyclops warriors in golf carts, and Mike White with a dubbed Irish accent?

A sad-sack portrait of a home-schooled aspiring fantasy scribe (Michael Angarano) whose weekend at a writers' camp turns into a twisted tale of plagiarism and movie adaptation rights, Gentlemen Broncos is less about intellectual property than it is about introverts spreading their wings - or their stag antlers.

Set in Utah, where the sky is vast and the architecture hideous, Hess' movie begins with a title sequence of paperback pulp sci-fi cover art - and goes into cheesy reenactments of the prose of teen hero Benjamin's latest novella, Yeast Lords. Sam Rockwell, in a wild wig and beard, is the star of these sequences - heroically coping with hijacked reproductive organs (his own) and bringing down aerial attackers with his super-powered purple vomit spew. (Throw-up and poop are recurring motifs.)

Teeming with socially awkward misfits, Gentlemen Broncos is not without its absurdist charms, although Hess (who co-scripted with his wife, Jerusha) pushes the envelope in ways it doesn't need pushing.

The real reason to see the film, however, is for the inspired pomposity of Jemaine Clement, the Flight of the Conchords star, here playing a revered author by the name of Dr. Ronald Chevalier. From the lectern and the book-signing desk, his advice is priceless.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies.

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