“Gentlemen Broncos” gallup into terrible pastures

The latest film from the creators of "Napoleon Dynamite" is about as bad as it can get.

Benjamin confronting Ronald Chevalier. PHOTO COURTESY FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Benjamin confronting Ronald Chevalier. PHOTO COURTESY FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Tony Libera

âÄúGentlemen BroncosâÄù DIRECTED BY: Jared Hess STARRING: Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, Sam Rockwell RATED: PG-13 SHOWING: Area theaters Husband-and-wife Jared and Jerusha Hess made a big splash in 2004 when their indie baby âÄúNapoleon DynamiteâÄù was released. The film was just weird enough, its characters just sad enough and the quotes just goofy enough. The Hesses seemed to show promise, but they never managed to evolve. In fact, they went in the opposite direction with âÄúGentlemen Broncos,âÄù their latest release, which is about as immature and unfunny as it gets, wasting its talented actors and focusing on juvenile, gross-out humor. âÄúGentlemen Broncos,âÄù as its title does not suggest, is the story of a home-schooled boy named Benjamin (Michael Angarano) who briefly attends a writing camp and submits his short story. There he meets an assortment of equally awkward writer-wannabes attending a workshop with his hero, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), a washed-up sci-fi writer about to lose his publishing deal. Chevalier finds BenjaminâÄôs submission âÄî the tale of something called a Yeast Lord named Bronco (Sam Rockwell) âÄî makes the lead flamboyantly gay and sells the story as his own. The entire film is reduced to nonsensical wackiness and a display of bodily fluids. Benjamin throws up and then kisses a girl on the mouth. A snake defecates on his âÄúGuardian AngelâÄù (Mike White). Bronco uses his vomit to thwart an evil villain. Even the most mundane moments in BenjaminâÄôs life are infused with an over-the-top stupidity and vulgarity that makes them irrelevant to the audience. The only scenes that are in anyway enjoyable are those detailing the fictional spaceman BroncoâÄôs exploits, and even those are average at best. To make matters worse, the director, Hess, is constantly using cinematic techniques ripped from pages of the Wes Anderson handbook (Ronald Chevalier. âÄúHotel Chevalier.âÄù Coincidence?). ThereâÄôs an unsubtle stab at cleverness that worms its way through the film, whether itâÄôs in the form of not-so-obscure classic rock tracks or camera gimmicks in the vein of campy ’70s zooms. Unfortunately for Mr. Hess, framing shots at 90-degree angles and lingering on your characters for just a second too long does not make you an auteur. There are a few noble attempts to save this sinking ship, all coming from the acting department. Michael Angarano is understated in the lead role, providing some sense of normality to a world that has clearly had its water supply tainted by LSD. Jemaine Clement of âÄúFlight of the ConchordsâÄù fame instills the perfect amount of pretension in the Chevalier character, complete with an overdramatic quasi-British accent. And Sam Rockwell is, well, Sam Rockwell. HeâÄôs cool as all hell even when the Hesses are trying to castrate him, and, with his muted southern growl, he manages to be likable in spite of the constant subversion by the script. But despite these actorsâÄô efforts, their characters quickly wear thin. There just isnâÄôt enough plot to sustain them for 90 minutes, and they become almost as insufferable as the minor characters that bumble beside them (Héctor JiménezâÄôs Lonnie, with his discomfiting facial expressions, being the most excruciating to watch). âÄúGentlemen BroncosâÄù may be the third major motion picture the Hesses have made, but it plays like the work of amateurs. As the pair recedes into the world of fluid sight gags, it becomes painfully clear that, like DexyâÄôs Midnight Runners , theyâÄôll end up as one hit wonders. 1/5 Stars