I wanted to like Gentlemen Broncos. The story of a sad sack sci-fi writer, Benjamin (Michael Angarano), getting his book idea ripped off by pompous author Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement) sounded promising enough, especially when presented with the two authors' versions of the same tale as acted out by Sam Rockwell (and, to an extent, Mike White). Yet, despite having all of the ingredients for something delicious, the dish doesn't come together.
It's difficult to determine just what makes Gentlemen Broncos falter as we have several likely suspects. Our protagonist, Benjamin, doesn't garner a lot of sympathy. We may feel bad that he's got a kooky mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and a crappy job selling her homemade fashions but he's more or less a sad sack who gets taken advantage of by others, especially the obnoxious Tabatha (Halley Feiffer) and her friend Lonnie (Hector Jimenez). Meanwhile, Chevalier may be a dick for ripping off Benjamin's story, Yeast Lords, but he's not quite despicable enough to be a proper villain. If anything, Jemaine Clement's performance as Chevalier is enough to make him far more interesting that much else in the movie, especially his love of laser-shooting nipples.
Directed and co-written by Jared Hess, Gentlemen Broncos feels like a pale imitation of his earlier work, Napoleon Dynamite, minus the good-natured charm. Too many elements of Gentlemen Broncos bring to mind Napoleon Dynamite and the comparisons aren't favorable. We have the put-upon protagonist, the goofy Mexican, the awkward romance, cheesy rock tunes, etc. All of these fall short of their original implementations as they feel hollow and without charm. They feel like recycled bits from someone trying to recapture the magic of Napoleon Dynamite and failing.
The uneven film tries to be a carnival ride of fun but ends up lurching around so much that it may viewers a little nauseous.