By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Jared Hess, 30, and Jerusha Hess, 29, met in film class at Brigham Young University and together wrote a little independent movie called Napoleon Dynamite, which Jared directed. Released in 2004, the movie was a once in a lifetime success story, earning a genuine cult following and inspiring a generation of dialogue-quoters and "Vote for Pedro" t-shirt wearers. Hollywood loved it too, and it wasn't long before the Hesses were in charge of the bigger budgeted Nacho Libre (2006). Despite considerably less flattering reviews, the film went on to gross over $80 million, more than doubling its production budget.
Both films contained the same kind of off-kilter rhythms and dry, almost-but-not-quite cruel humor that fans seem to love. Their new film, Gentlemen Broncos (opening Oct. 30 and Nov. 6), is more complex in the plot department but still hangs onto these unique rhythms. Michael Angarano stars as Benjamin, a home-schooled teen who is also a burgeoning sci-fi writer. His widowed mom (Jennifer Coolidge) sends him to a writer's camp, where he submits his manuscript, an epic called Yeast Lords, to a contest to be judged by his hero, published author Ronald Chevalier (Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement). Lacking in new material, Chevalier senses the greatness of Yeast Lords and steals it for himself. Meanwhile, Benjamin's new friends Tabatha (Halley Feiffer, daughter of cartoonist/playwright Jules) and Lonnie (Héctor Jiménez) offer to make a low-budget film of the manuscript; Benjamin watches as they makes a royal hash out of it. We also see "footage" from the "real" Yeast Lords, played out as a slightly more expensive sci-fi epic starring Sam Rockwell as hero "Bronco."
The Hesses recently journeyed to San Francisco and took time out to sit down with GreenCine for a discussion about the film.