Napoleon Dynamite

2005 teenage comedy

Rating: 16/20 (Dylan: 12/20; Emma: 15/20; Abbey: 10/20)

Plot: The titular geek spends his time doing what most typical teens enjoy doing--drawing mythical creatures, dragging action figures behind his school bus, and feeding a llama. Normally, he's pretty lonely, but he makes two friends in a week. There's Deb, a gal who shows up to his house to sell bracelets in order to make money for college, and Pedro, a transfer student with a mustache and a skill in talking to the ladies. Napoleon decides to help the latter with his student presidency campaign. Meanwhile, Grandma's injured herself riding four wheelers, his Uncle Rico's in town to help his brother (cousin?) Kip build a time machine, Kip's got an online love interest coming in for a visit, the school dance is approaching, and money is needed. It's a lot for one Napoleon Dynamite to have to deal with.

I like this stupid movie. God help me, I like this Stupid-with-a-capital-S movie. It's unique, the kind of movie that invents its own rhythm, but if you're willing to go with the flow, it works. On paper, it shouldn't. The actors overdo it, shoot for the quirkiest of stars and get there. The loungy soundtrack would be completely irritating if it was in any other movie. There's really not enough of a plot for an entire movie. The colors are garish, too garish, and although the movie has this weird timeliness that makes it difficult to pin it to a specific decade, I'd guess the 1980s which is the worst decade that has ever been. But for reasons that I'm not sure I could explain to somebody who hates this movie (and I could definitely understand if that was you), I like it. From the get-go, the scene where the kid asks Napoleon what he's going to do today and Napoleon responds, with pride, by tossing the action figure out the window, you know the film's humor won't be for everybody. And scenes with Uncle Rico hurling a chunk of meat, some smooshed tator tots, and a really odd time machine are, like all the funny scenes in the movie, things that I laughed at and almost instantly asked myself, "Wait a second. What the hell am I laughing at?" Eventually, things start to come together and the characters find themselves in a few stories. They're not all the most interesting stories (the subplot with Kip and his girlfriend cheapens the whole thing), but it builds to an iconic movie-magic moment with an absolutely ridiculous dance for our (dare I say it?) iconic titular (you knew I'd say that) character. Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) and Aaron Ruell (Kip) are both as funny as Jon Heder as our hero, and the kid who plays Pedro (Efren Rodriquez) is also great.


l@rstonovich said...

This movie works even better when you know or are married to mormons or ex-mormons who grew up in the boonies of utah/idaho. The best part is because of the lack of "cuss" words it's a big mormon hit! Loved it. 19.

(it was such a huge hit out here that it took a year before people stopped quoting/imitating it, not sure if that was the case in Indiana. It almost caused me to backlash but died down in time. I think I've seen this 3 times and liked it as much all 3)

Barry said...

I like this movie a lot. Its sweet, stupid, funny and it makes you root for the characters in it. Its pretty damn funny in a lot of parts, and there is no one in it that throws you out of the movie. That is so rare in a movie now days. The cast was absolutely perfect, even down to the only guy I recognized the first time I saw this, (Diedrich Bader)

I give it an 18....its really just good entertainment.

cory said...

You guys got this covered well. It's a unique and very charming movie I would give a 16. Oh...and vote for Pedro.