You get Gentlemen Broncos!
Jared Hess was supposed to do a Q&A after the screening I attended, but he didn't come out. He was probably too embarrassed to show up. His comedic direction was very lacklustre. It's a common criticism of his work, but Hess has to learn that you can't base a comedy around laughing at ugly people and people with abnormal voices.
The writing wasn't up to scratch either. It did take the film into some unique and novel directions while exposing the sci-fi world of the protagonist's novel (these interludes were the best part of the film). However, these sci-fi scenes didn't move along the main plot; they were just goofy skits meant only to provide comic relief. This is no way to write a screenplay for a motion picture. Every scene, cut, line and hand gesture must either provide characterization or further the plot.
The script as a whole failed to provide laughs. There wasn't much other than 'laugh at' humour. Real humour should strike a chord with the viewer by strumming the strings of reality and shared life experience, with fingers on the frets of surprise and intelligence.
Doing their best with the tepid material, the cast did their best to liven up the show. Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge did the best, with White playing two or three roles, depending on how you look at it. The director gave the actors too much slack, so some of the less seasoned performers scenes came across sloppy.
The poor direction and writing meant that this film didn't ever stand much of a chance to be good.