“Gentlemen Broncos” is about the fantasies of a 15 year old boy and it has some of the charm but all of the failings of those stories. The charm is its unguarded purity of emotion and unchecked enthusiasm for its powers of imagination. The failings are all of that plus the resulting incoherence and absence of insight.
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a shy, repressed boy who lives with his single mother (Jennifer Coolidge). He writes elaborate fantasy sci-fi stories filled with flying battle stags, aliens, and drastic body functions and fluids. Breasts emit laser beams. Projectile vomit erupts like a volcano. And a hero has to sew back is own body part after it was removed for examination by his captors.
At an overnight writing workshop, Benjamin meets his idol, Chevalier (Jermaine Clement of “Flight of the Concords”), a massively self-important author who wears a Bluetooth earpiece like an accessory. And he meets Tabatha, (Halley Feiffer) a supremely confident girl who has mastered the art of mastering shy boys. Both end up appropriating Benjamin’s story, and the movie’s best moments are the variations reflecting each of their perspectives and abilities. Chevalier steals the story and publishes it under his own name. And Tabitha gets Benjamin to agree to let her sidekick film the story. As many an author has learned before him, Benjamin finds that the translation to film distorts his original vision.
Of course, the original vision may not be such a good idea, and that is the problem here. The Hesses are trying to make fun of juvenile behavior but there’s a very fine line between the level of humor they are portraying and the level of humor in the way they portray it. It is the very essence of juvenile humor to overestimate the comedic value of bodily fluids and functions, to go for the knowing snicker rather than the more-knowing laugh.
Parents should know that the movie has a lot of crude humor, much relating to bodily functions, and some strong language, along with sci-fi/fantasy violence that includes references to the severing and of a man’s private parts and his re-sewing to repair the injury.
Topics for discussion: How did Benjamin’s story change as it was interpreted by other characters? What are your favorite science fiction and fantasy stories?
If you like this, try: “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Big Fat Liar”