By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Indie comedy is too gross, cringe-inducing to be funny.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite the negative messages from Chevalier and Lonnie, there's at least one positive take away: that unethical behavior will eventually be caught. There's also a loving relationship between a mother and son.
Positive Role Models
Chevalier is a greedy character who makes artists (in this case, authors) seem like they only care about sales and not about artistic integrity. Many of the other characters are unsympathetic and unlikable.
Violence & Scariness
The sci-fi scenes feature cartoonish violence -- like guns that appear out of animals' eyes/backsides, killer Cyclops, and explosive vomit. Several fictional characters die or are blown up, but it's not graphic and no corpses are visible. Darts hit Ben's mom in the breast (technically, it hits her gel insert), as well as another character. Although it's not violent, there's a gross scene in which a snake poops (a lot) and various images of "gonads" (in jars, being thrown around, stepped on, sewn on, etc).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tabatha flirts with Ben, and they end up kissing briefly (immediately after he vomits, so it's pretty disturbing). Several discussions about Chevalier's fictional Harpies saga, in which the women have incredibly large breasts that can shoot "mammary cannons" and the like.
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One "apes--t," but otherwise fairly tame: "nads," "darn you" "dang," "freak," and "crap."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this comedy from the folks behind Napoleon Dynamite -- which co-stars Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement -- is pretty light on sexuality and swearing (particularly for a PG-13 movie), it's quite uncomfortable to watch. There's an off-putting amount of bodily parts, functions, and fluids -- such as yeast, gonads, vomit, and feces. In one scene, a kiss takes place immediately after a guy throws up, and the "evidence" is on both kissers' faces afterward. Consequently, some families may not feel that the humor is appropriate, despite the relatively mild language (one "apes--t") and mostly cartoonish violence.
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Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
In the year 2019 there should be a sequel
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Weird and wonderful mother and son story
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What's the Story?
Ben Purvis (Michael Angarano) is a sweet, home-schooled teenager who writes offbeat sci-fi stories (which come to life on screen starring his fictional protagonist, Bronco, played by Sam Rockwell). At a writing conference for Utah teens, Ben meets his literary hero, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), a best-selling author who hasn't written anything decent in years and needs a manuscript to save his publishing contract. Chevalier reads Ben's story, "Yeast Lords: The Bronco Years," and steals it; meanwhile, an unaware Ben allows fellow workshop attendees Tabatha (Halley Feiffer) and Lonnie (Hector Jimenez) to "adapt" his story into an amateur film. As Chevalier's plagiarized version goes to print and the homemade film veers away from his vision, Ben grows disillusioned with his talent and his life as the only son of a modest-nightdress designer (Jennifer Coolidge).
Is It Any Good?
Third time is definitely not a charm for director Jared Hess. His adorably infectious debut film Napoleon Dynamite was the breakout hit of 2004 and whose sophomore effort Nacho Libre at least featured a spandexed Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler. GENTLEMEN BRONCOS, however, doesn't have many redeeming qualities save for Clement (half of the hilarious Kiwi duo Flight of the Conchords), who steals every scene he's in with his pompous accent and ridiculous commentary about his expertise in sci-fi (like how to name a character -- by adding "anous" or "inus" as a suffix). He's the only character worth following, which is a considerable problem since he's not the protagonist.
Angarano's Ben is melancholy, long-suffering, and just plain boring to watch. His mother, Judith, is loving but clueless and has no friends except for Dusty (Mike White), a slightly creepy, python-carrying "Big Brother" who makes eyes at his mom. And then there's the completely unlikable duo of Tabatha and Lonnie, who are awkward and unfunny. Admittedly, the movie does have some laughs, mostly thanks to Clement, but there are so many cringe-inducing scenes -- the fictional Bronco's obsession with gonads, Dusty's python having the largest reptilian bowel movement ever captured on film, Ben's mom being hit with a dart in the breast, Tabatha squirting lotion on her hands and demanding Ben for a massage -- that several moviegoers left halfway through the absurdity. And who can blame them?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families who've seen Napoleon Dynamite and/or Nacho Libre can talk about how this movie compares to the director's previous films. What do his characters have in common?
Is the movie's scatalogical humor funny or off-putting? How does it compare to other movies in which this kind of humor is equally prevalent?
How does the movie depict the sci-fi genre and culture/fans? Do you think it's an accurate portrayal?
- In theaters: November 6, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 2010
- Cast: Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement
- Director: Jared Hess
- Inclusion Information: Indigenous actors, Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some crude humor
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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