Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Napoleon (Jon Heder) is a high school nerd with one friend, a Mexican boy called Pedro (Efren Ramirez), who has a moustache and only limited command of the English language. Napoleon is tall and droopy, with a slack mouth and glasses.

"How was school today?" his llama-loving gran asks.

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"Worst day of my life," Napoleon retorts. "What do you THINK?!!"

His brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) would win the Five Stone Weakling competition hands down. He's over 30 and wastes his life emailing girls on chat rooms. Uncle Ricco (Jon Gries) can't get over that moment in '82 when he almost made the football team. He's still in training, except now he sells plastic bowls from a van.

Deb (Tina Majorino) is a girl from school, with a blank expression and a one-sided ponytail, who is constantly thinking up goofy ideas to make money and wants Napoleon - or anyone - to take her to the dance. Summer (Haylie Duff) is a blonde cheerleader, who knows she's the sexiest thing in bobby sox this side of The Sandra Dee Beauty Picnic over at Highlake.

This is a shoestring movie that really knows what it's doing. Rather than laughing at these lame losers and mocking small town aspirations, because everyone's so white and ordinary, twentysomething husband-and-wife team Jared and Jurusha Hess look for hopeful messages behind the dumpster.

Napoleon says, "Girls want boys with skills." Meaning, "I have no skills and no girls. I HATE LIFE!!"

What the Hesses are saying is that everyone has skills, although right now they may not know it. The movie is eccentric and wild in one respect and positive and cool in another.

Guess what?

They find their skills.


Reviewed on: 02 Dec 2004
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In praise of small town high school losers who discover their skills.
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Director: Jared Hess

Writer: Jared Hess, Jurusha Hess

Starring: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Diedrich Bader, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin, Haylie Duff, Shondrella Avery, Trevor Snarr

Year: 2004

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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