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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: Gentlemen Broncos (12A) ★★★
A teenager attends a fantasy writers' convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.


Gentlemen Broncos is the new film from the man who brought us Napoleon Dynamite and has this stamp across it right from the really cool, yet very geeky, opening credits.

Broncos is the tale of nerdy home schooled Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) who attends a fantasy writers convention and discovers that his hero, author Dr Chevalier (Jermaine Clement), is actually a self indulgent, arrogant know-it-all that that really knows nothing at all. What is not known by his fans however is that Chevalier is struggling to come up with any ideas for his new novel (Moon Fetus?!) and is on the brink off being dropped. It's this fear that leads him to steal a draft of Benjamin's novel (Yeast Wars) that he has submitted for a competition that Chevalier has cunningly concocted and then passed off as his own, with little changes here and there.

Intertwined with Benjamin selling his own novel to a local film studio and Chevalier regaining his fame with his, is Yeast Wars being played out as both Benjamin's and Chevaliers versions starring Sam Rockwell as the hero (Bronco/Brutus) in what is the craziest thing I've seen on film in years. You have flying stags with lasers, gonads being stolen and puke being used as a weapon, not to mention the seventies vibe throughout, this really is Space 1999 gone bonkers.

Angarano plays Benjamin beautifully, portraying so much emotion and feeling through only facial expressions as his lines are few. Clement is magical in the Chevalier role and comes across so ludicrously and with such pomposity that you can't help feel sorry for him, imagine Alan Partridge in the fantasy role playing world. Sam Rockwell plays Bronco/Brutus with intense camp boisterousness you begin to wonder whether there is a role he couldn't ever do.

The film isn't without its flaws however, the weird level is cranked up to maximum levels and sometimes comes across as if it was put in there just for the sake of being weird. This includes the supporting characters where the counter-balance to the craziness is just not present and instead the viewer is bombarded to even more wackiness and begin to crave just a bit of normalcy. Its because of this you can never relax into the film, instead you just brace yourself for more craziness.

Its an understatement that is an odd film and I can see many people shaking their heads and really not getting what is going on but its certainly not a bad film and one I'd recommend as a Saturday night in front of the TV with a pick-n-mix. Like me.


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