Saturday, 20 February 2010

Gentlemen Broncos

Can Jared Hess live up to the excitement he created with Napoleon Dynamite? Or is it another disappointing Nacho Libre? Actually, it's somewhere in the middle - but whereabouts is up to you.

For me, Napoleon Dynamite was a gift from above. Everything about it was funny and it still has it's affect on today's culture (geek chic, "Vote For Pedro" etc.) but it was mainly because it was just, well, different. People criticised it for not really having a story, that they found it all a bit weird and didn't understand why it was funny. Everyone's got a right to an opinion, even a wrong one, and for sheer style, innovation and bollocks alone, Hess deserves some credit.

So with Gentlemen Broncos, not only does it have yet again another amazing title sequence, but it takes everything that was great about Dynamite and fuses it with everything that was great about Nacho Libre (mainly the colourful palette, the Mexican partner and the "Hero's Journey" narrative). Our protagonist, Benjamin, is a creative writer who sees his work get plagiarised and also turned into a crappy film, a statement against Hollywood for Hess perhaps, but the main jist is that he turns from a shy, nerdy recluse to an outspoken, brave young man. Which makes it essentially a coming of age story. Yawn.

Luckily, it is actually really funny but unfortunately after a while does start to wane slightly. Our main guy holds his own but his whole love fling with this selfish, shitty bitch is just a bit nonsensical, but it does feature perhaps the best kiss ever captured on film. You'll know what I mean when you see it. It starts to get a bit much after a while and you want him to be accepted sooner - the narrative starts to outweigh the comedy slightly, but just about keeps afloat with some proper hilarious gags.

Another main feature is "Flight of the Conchords" Jermaine, who is incredible and surely one of the funniest characters we've seen in cinema. Okay, that might be taking it a bit too far, but his sci-fi author must be seen to be believed - as are the other side characters. His 'guardian angel', mother and 'producer' are great but, for me, still fall short of the cast of Napoleon. The little inserts of the film with Sam Rockwell are also hilarious and give a welcome distraction to the sometimes woeful experiences teenage Benjamin goes through.

The focus on the strange science fiction culture underbelly proves to be a much more successful bet than Mexican wrestling and Hess has clearly made something a bit more personal than before. If you want to watch a good comedy with some great character actors then go see this. It's not as good as Napoleon Dynamite but better than Nacho Libre - and it's possible it might even top both for you. Also hang on until after the end credits for a little surprise....

Rating: 8/10

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