Jared and Jerusha Hess Talk Gentlemen Broncos
10.30.09 by Ryan
The Hesses have spent their short career making eccentric comedies like Napolean Dynamite, Nacho Libre, and the upcoming Gentlemen Broncos, which opens in limited release today. The movie follows a teenager (Michael Angarano) who finds that his novel has been plagiarized by a legendary novelist (Jemaine Clement). While Jared usually directs, the married duo typically co-write the movies, bringing elements of their family and home life into the scripts. Jared told Collider that Gentlemen Broncos is so personal, even the title is taken from his childhood.
The title of the film comes from my mom, who had this really weird parenting book when I was growing up. I have five younger brothers, and it was this book, called So You Want to Raise a Boy?, written in the 1950s. There's a chapter in there where it talks about the age from 16 to 17 and the author referred to it as the gentlemen bronco phase of life, where teenage boys like to take their shirts off and mow the lawn.
Jennifer Coolidge plays Angarano's mother, who makes nightgowns and popcorn balls. Jared told Movieline that, as outrageous as it sounds, the character is based on his own mother.
The mother character in the film is based on my mother and parts of [Jerusha's] mom. My mom worked for a modest nightgown company growing up, and she also had a really great popcorn ball recipe. Her company was called Christmas's Country Corn. My mom's name is Christmas. So my brothers and I would often go with her to boutiques to sell her popcorn balls. So that's something very real.
Not that popcorn balls are the weirdest thing in Gentlemen Broncos — the movie has Sam Rockwell playing an interstellar cowboy who rides battle stags, which are deer armed with missiles. Still, that may not hold off the raised eyebrows from their family. "When our mom saw Napoleon for the first time," said Jared, "she was like, 'Well, that was a lot of embarrassing family material.'" However, both Hesses agree that their movie isn't about the quirky characters but about "underdogs" in general and "the idea of an outsider with big dreams trying to achieve what he wants to do in life, with limited social skills or means."
Sounds like something Napoleon fans can get behind.