This is one for all you Robert Jordan fans. Jared Hess is going to follow up Nacho Libre with a flick called Gentlemen Broncos, in which a high school kid (Michael Angarano) goes to a writers’ camp where a famous fantasy author (Jemaine Clement) rips off his idea. The comedy won’t just stick with reality; it’ll also bounce back and forth between the honest and fantasy version of the story in question, with Sam Rockwell playing the lead character in both versions.
It’s a great idea, and one that could be mined for either a treasure trove of easy gags or a more lean but barbed set of takedowns. And face it, the fantasy novel exists on a landscape so ridiculous that even the easy jokes would kill.
But Jared Hess is two for two in making movies that fail to capitalize on easy premises, so you can understand why I might be more than a little wary. Hess and his wife Jerusha wrote the script, so it’s not like there’s some impeccable creative pedigree behind it.
Then there’s the Jemaine Clement thing. I had enough of Flight of the Conchords about three episodes into the debut run; when I did enjoy it, usually that was thanks to Bret McKenzie. I actually feel like Sam Rockwell and Jemaine Clement are matter and anti-matter. Rockwell has the sort of effortless, charming presence that arch hipsters would die for, while Clement so often comes across as the desperate hipster sitting in the corner, pining for popularity.
(I’ll give him credit for the backing vocals on ‘If You’re Into It’.)
In fact, this project would make a lot more sense if Rockwell and Clement’s positions were reversed. Rockwell could nail the sleazy writer and Clement might actually be ideal for the real/fantasy version of the novel’s lead. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with casting right in line with type. The trick is in knowing when to say when.