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Film Review: Walton Goggins Channels Absolute Mysticism and Buffoonery in “John Bronco”

Written by: Patrick Howard | October 16th, 2020

Film poster: “John Bronco”

John Bronco (Jake Szymanski, 2020) 4 out 4 stars.

In a year of pandemic carnage, social unrest and political corruption, a year that cannot end soon enough, I am more than happy to accept the new Hulu mockumentary short, John Bronco. John Bronco, portrayed by Walton Goggins (Them That Follow), is the salesman to end all salesmen. At least, that is what the people who know the man would argue if you stopped them on the street. Bronco appears to be more than a regular man, and the Ford Motor Company senses that unattainable masculinity and hires him to be the official spokesperson for their new sports utility vehicle, the Ford Bronco. The steps to fame are as slippery going up as they are going down, and we learn that John Bronco will prove that theory, face first.

John Bronco is the spiritual successor to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The specific subject matter is dissimilar, but Szymanski’s direction homes in on the film’s wacky tone. Pretension aside, I was struck by how comedically satisfying John Bronco is as a 37-minute-long short. The jokes, or jokes disguised as clichéd story beats, were set up and paid off so well that they legitimized the mockumentary as an entertaining entry in the biopic genre. 

Walton Goggins in JOHN BRONCO ©Hulu

Walton Goggins gives a pitch-perfect performance. He serves at the behest of the joke and never oversteps the line, never hogging the screen. Szymanski and his editor Andrew Fitzgerald also know that the camera must be pointed towards the supporting characters (i.e., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bo Derek), who can build up the ridiculous mythos of John Bronco, as well.

The only criticism I can make is that Goggins is so good that I need more John Bronco in my life. A short film simply will not do. I may be tempting the fates with that one. Who can know for sure?

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Patrick Howard has been a cinephile since age seven. Alongside 10 years of experience in film analysis and criticism, he is a staunch supporter of all art forms and believes their influence and legacy over human culture is vital. Mr. Howard takes the time to write his own narrative stories when he can.

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