Napoleon Dynamite is a new kind of hero, complete with a tight red 'fro, sweet moon boots, and skills that can?t be topped. Napoleon spends his days drawing mythical beasts, duking it out with his brother, Kip, and avoidin... more »g his scheming Uncle Rico. When two new friends enter Napoleon's life - shy Deb and mustachioed Pedro - the trio launches a campaign to elect Pedro for class president and make the student body?s wildest dreams come true. But if Pedro is to beat stuck-up Summer, Napoleon will have to unleash his secret weapon...« less
As the sales client watches on in her yard, Napoleon Dynamite's brother demonstrates the strength of Nupont fiber woven tupperware bowls by backing a van over one. Shatters everywhere.
(...and he drives away...)
Funniest part of the movie, every time.
These two (Jared and wife Jerusha Hess) have gone on to make a bunch of hilarious movies. All worth checking out.
My wife caught a delicious bass this summer. We cooked it up in a Chinese stew, originally formulated for babies and old folk. 800 year old recipe.
"I caught you a delicious bass."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In high school, I was one of the nameless, faceless rabble who drew little attention, maintained a low profile, and caused little trouble all in the hopes of getting out relatively unscathed, a goal I managed to accomplish, partly due to my sometimes intimidating presence, but mainly because I was able to fit in, sort of like a fish within a shoal...but there were those who weren't so fortunate, as obvious physical characteristics or personality traits (or both) tended to enunciate their presence regardless of vain attempts to `blend in' or enjoy the anonymity I, and those like me, tended to take for granted. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) is a film about one of those individuals.
The film, written and directed by Jared Hess, takes place in a small Idaho town and stars Jon Heder as the title character (he reminded me a lot of Timothy Busfield's character of Arnold Poindexter in the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds). Also appearing is Jon Gries (Real Genius, Fright Night Part II), Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez (Kazaam), Tina Majorino (she played the little girl with the map on her back in Kevin Costner's flopperino Waterworld), and Haylie Duff, sister to the more famous Hillary Duff, who both share a surname that's the same as Homer Simpson's favorite alcoholic beverage, Duff Beer.
Napoleon Dynamite is an odd character for sure, with his shaggy red afro, moon boots (he wears them year `round), and t-shirts usually featuring those glossy iron-ons so popular in the 70's (he seems to purchase much of his wardrobe at the local thrift store) with a penchant for drawing mythical creatures, boasting about fictional girlfriends who live in other states (don't they always?), and touting his non-existent martial arts abilities, "You know, there's like a b*tt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff". Oh yeah, he breathes mostly through his mouth, and his vernacular includes, but isn't limited to, the liberal usage of such words like sweet, flippin', gosh, freakin', and heck, and he, along with his 32 year old brother Kip (Ruell), live with their grandmother, who owns a llama named Tina. After an ATV accident sends grandma to the hospital, Uncle Rico (Gries) arrives to watch over the boys, and involves Kip in his schemes to make some sweet cash. Napoleon, meanwhile, finds a friend in a newly arrived Hispanic student named Pedro (Ramirez) and he and their shy and kinda dorky friend Deb (Majorino) assist Pedro in his bid to become the next student body president, their competition being Summer (Duff), member of the cheerleading squad and the most popular girl in school. Do the trio have a chance in beating the juggernaut that is Summer? Perhaps, but it requires Napoleon to pull forth from within something no one would have realized he had, not even himself...
The film is very odd...it's kind of a mix of the Coen brothers (Fargo, Raising Arizona), John Waters (Crybaby), and the earlier films of John Hughes (Sixteen Candles). There's not much of a story at the beginning, more of a series of innocuous, unrelated, comical events, but later on we do see some development in this area with regards to Napoleon and Deb helping Pedro in his running for student body president. Some scenes will make little or no sense in relation to what you may perceive as the story, so my recommendation is to just let it go, and enjoy the film for what it is, whatever it is...the real fun lies within Heder and his complete submersion into the character of Napoleon, wallowing in his own uncoolness. Initially most will probably find him annoying and off-putting, but he sort of grew on me, and I actually found myself quietly rooting for him, in his most simple of endeavors (like trying to find a sweet fanny pack at the local thrift store), but don't get the wrong impression. This isn't a triumphant nerd film (the nerd beats the jocks and/or gets the head cheerleader in the end), but a character-driven slice of weirdness that has a tendency to amuse. The dialogue contains tons of quotable lines, and comes across genuine sense of realism. The composed music by John Swihart and chosen pre-recorded material used to make the soundtrack complemented the film very well. I think my favorite scene is when Napoleon discovers his uncle's crude time machine (which he purchased of the internet), and decides to give it a try...does it work? Well, it does something, but I won't tell you what...one thing I really noticed was an absolute absence of profanity. I'm not against its' usage in films, and have even become used to it (for better or worse), so it was kinda refreshing.
The picture quality, presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic wide screen and 1.33:1 full screen (both sides of the DVD are used), looks sharp and clear, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio coming through very well. Special features are numerous and include a commentary track by the director/writer Hess, actor Heder, and producer Jeremy Coon, along with deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a short film entitled `Peluca' (basically the original concept for the character of Napoleon Dynamite, also with commentary), a number of MTV promotional spots, a still gallery, a featurette on the shooting of the final scene (keep watching the film after the credits to see a newly filmed 4 minute sequence shot a year after the film was released, made especially for the DVD release), and a promo for the FOX television series Arrested Development. The special features are split between the two sides of the discs, so be sure to flip it over once you've finished one side. My recommendation is to rent the film before buying, as it's not for everyone (I wouldn't bother showing it to my mother, as I know she wouldn't attempt to understand the where the humor comes from within this film).
The New Mormon Cinema Finds Its Poster Boy
R. W. Rasband | Heber City, UT | 12/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the past few years there has been a movement in American film you could call "The New Mormon Cinema." Young Latter-day Saint filmmakers (definitely inspired by the Sundance Film Festival which is held right in their own backyard) have been making inexpensive independent films that are targeted at the Mormon population that stretches in the west from Alberta in Canada down past the Mexican border (the so-called "Mormon Corridor.") Most of these movies have been really bad, cheaply done sit-com influenced "comedies" that have had absolutely no influence on non-Mormon audiences. (With the honorable exeception of Richard Dutcher, the director of good movies like the missionary drama "God's Army" and the thriller "Brigham City.") Things began to change this year with widespread recognition going to the tough-minded World War II drama "Saints and Soldiers" and this twisted little comic masterpiece, "Napoleon Dynamite."
Jared and Jerusha Hess are products of Brigham Young University's film school and they made ND with a bunch of their friends. The unspoken assumption of this film is that most of the kids are Mormons. Some critics who misunderstood the movie as "condescending" have no experience with real people like these. I live in rural Utah and I can testify that Hess is only mildly exaggerating. The critics somehow miss the love with which the characters are drawn, just as some Minnesotans weren't too thrilled with the Coen brothers' "Fargo." Napoleon's pathetic older brother Kip has been singled out as particularly unbelievable. But believe me, Kips are a dime a dozen in Idaho (and Utah, too.)
Napoleon himself is not so much acted as incarnated by Jon Heder, who would win some sort of Oscar if people could only see he was playing a role, not living it. Napoleon is the real nerd deal, not some idealized John-Hughes-style Hollywood version. You really feel the anguish of his life, even as it provokes guilty belly laughs. The genius of the movie is how the Hesses take the angst of Todd Solondz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse" and "Happiness") and put their triumphantly uniquely Mormon spin on it.
Hess is the second Mormon director, after Neil LaBute in "The Shape of Things", to make reference to singer Elvis Costello ("Napoleon Dynamite" is one of Costello's aliases.) The movie Napoleon is as physically unprepossessing as Costello is, until he starts to sing. You see, Mormons are always worrying about what other people think of them, because of their long-time outsider status in American society. This overwhelming self-consciousness can make them feel as awkward and crushed by the culture as Napoleon is. But inside they just know they are as dynamic as the very name "Napoleon Dynamite." The opportunity awaits for them to strut their true stuff. An individual like Napoleon can't be destroyed if he doesn't want to be. There's something eternal in him that will win out. The importance of this thought is why the Hesses avoid the very appearance of sentimentality in their presentation of Napoleon. You have to learn to love him in spite of his monstrous imperfections, because he is human. And you rejoice in Napoleon's final dance, which is five or six of the most joyous minutes in a movie this year.
It's also important that Kip and Napoleon redeem themselves by reaching out to others not like them. Kip hilariously to La Fawnduh, and Napoleon to Pedro and Deb. The Hesses are brave enough to make sympathetic jokes about multiculturalism here. Certainly, Preston Idaho, won't save them; but maybe Detroit and Mexico will. I left "Napoleon Dynamite" with genuinely earned good feelings about humanity in general and the future of Mormon movies in particular."
Geeeze Don't be an "Idiot" just see it!
Harvey S. Jacobs | Potomac, MD | 10/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I knew absolutley nothing about this flick when my 14 year old red-headed math whiz son said Dad let's go see this movie. From the opening credits I was entertained. This movie, is essentially a "day in the life of an Idaho high school nerd as he moves through various life cycle events and characters." Though the word "nerd" hardly seems to do justice to the timeless nature of title character Napoleon Dynamite. With little or no plot, Napoleon turned out to be more than part nostalgia. It was a stroll down memory lane. If I did not know that the writers in fact lived in Idaho, I would have sworn they had gone to my High School in South Florda in the late 70's. Our Senior Class Vice-President was in fact PEDRO from Mexico, our class Secretary, Melanie a blonde buxom cheerleader incarnate of this films' fictional "Summer" character and our Treasurer sported a huge Afro and all were clad in their finest disco outfits.
I guess this is why this sleeper film has gained such popularity. Forty-something dads and their teen kids can both see this movie together and come out repeating its hysterical dialogue. The current crop of teen viewers are living these absurd stereotypes and situations (dating, class elections, high school dances, the cafeteria). The oldsters in the audience either were, or knew one or more of this film's quirky characters.
The acting and dialogue are pure genius in their simplicity and absurdity. As other reviewers have mentioned, lines from this flick will become folklore. I found myself sitting around our family dinner table spouting off Napoleonisms reminiscent of the best of Monty Python.
Definitely go see this movie without any pre-conceptions, or expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised."
Do the chickens have large talons?
Eric Saed | 11/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is the essence of why this film is a rare gem: it portrays High School Misfits as they actually are. When I was in high school, the "nerds" and "dweebs" were not like the Hollywood stereotypes...you know, really smart, eager to please the "jocks" by doing their homework for them, into computers, etc...the sterotype that began with Revenge of the Nerds and never died. No, the bottom feeders in my school were like Nappy D. They just didn't look right. They weren't eager to please, they were irratable & antagonistic, like Napoleon. They did weird things (Napoleon throws an action figure on a string out the bus window; I remember a kid who walked around in the halls making truck noises). No, this is the perfect embodiment of what it is like to be a teenage nothing, and how in their world, everything is OK."
This 33 year old physician laugh more than he has in years.
James G. Henderson | IA United States | 01/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For people like Roger Ebert who pan this movie... you just don't get it. I'm not claiming any intellectual superiority or great film taste... it's just that I get it. Perhaps because I see elements of Napoleon Dynamite in me. For instance... his response on the bus "whatever I feel like. Gosh!" When I was in 4th grade I moved from a northern town in Illinois (Geneseo) to a small town called Lousville (pronounced Lewis-ville) in very southern Illinois where the culture was very different and people had Alabama-like accents. When I was riding on the schoolbus, my first day in mid-semester, I was petrified. Everyone stared at me as they stopped at my delapidated trailer to pick me up. A little girl turned around and asked "What's your naaaaame?" To which I replied "shuuuuuuuuuuuut uuuuuup!" And from that day on was greeted by everyone in unison shouting "HI SHUUUUUTUUUP" as I walked on the bus. My reply was out of a vain effort at self-defense... not mean-ness.. and so was Napoleons. Napoleon's journey was a remarkable, willful transformation, as was that of Deb and Pedro. Kip was amusingly transformed, but not so much with self-awareness. Uncle Rico was the only static character, which made it all the more funny because he had not changed since 1982. Of all the lines, the one where Napleon told Deb to get her stuff because there wasn't enough room for his nunchucks made me laugh the most histerically. Almost all the humor, other than "the dance" was rooted in hilarious subtlety and satire. I mean, how could I not be floored by someone bragging about chatting with hot babes online.... ALL DAY!
The bizarre time-period (An elegant collage of the 70's, 80's, and 90's) gives this film a wide audience and uses silly things from all decades to make it more hilarious. My conclusion is that people who don't like this movie are either 1) TOO nerdy to realize they are only the one side of the nerdy characters 2) They ARE Summer Wheatley 3) People like Roger Ebert who are absolutely clueless about the level of subtle humor in this film.
To the people comparing this to laughing at clowns... their reviews had me laughing as much as the movie... it's a total comedy in itself. ND is not a clown, he's flippin Superman in moonboots with a fro!
The ONLY other DVD I own is Monty Python's the Holy Grail... which also has incredibly intelligent subtle humor woven into the surface silliness.
For the intellect and the funny bone, I give ND a 5/5 stars. As far as those complaining about the "terrible" soundtrack, I wish I could give it 6/5 stars for having "Forever Young" by Alphaville and "The Promise" by When In Rome as too of the main songs in the soundtrack.
This thing just gets funnier the more I watch it.
P.S. Dear Roger Ebert... please watch this film again, then watch the piece of junk that "Garfield" is, and look at yourself in the mirror and cry."