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Napoleon Dynamite back to product details

Good for a light-hearted, escapist laugh
written by HPearson October 20, 2007 - 9:59 AM PDT
I'm not typically a fan of this genre of film, i.e. comedies that are so outrageous in their caricaturing that they are completely parodical and devoid of any depth. But for some reason I liked Napoleon Dynamite. It could be the setting - I grew up in Utah and my mom's from a small town in Idaho, so I connected with the scenery and characters in the film in a strangely familiar and comforting way. It's funny and yeah, full of cliches, but isn't that the whole point of a caricature? It works because it plays on our collective disdain for geeks and our even stronger disdain for the spoiled, popular, princess archetype, and especially speaks to the insecure geek in all of us.

It's Dynamite!
written by JCunningham August 14, 2005 - 1:04 AM PDT
2 out of 5 members found this review helpful
All the nay-sayers can go jump in a lake -- ND rocks. It's subtle, peculiar, quirky, deliberately pastel and well scrummbed. You have to grasp the core first.. this was made by Mormons about Mormons. No, they don't come right out and say this, but it's dead obvious. It's a peek into the mundane existence of the every-man geek in High School, but with a touch of something divine... the meek inherit the earth in this movie, and that's probably what throws most people off who dislike it. For once the outcasts have their day, thanks to Napoleon Dynamite, who haphazardly changes reality simply by being the immovable object (see ANGUS for a similar theme and equally good movie). You have to be able to laugh at the substancelessness of this Idaho Mormon mediocrity thriving in the 21st century. Personally, I loved all the characters. I watch ND once a month just to see my favorite moments. Bought the soundtrack, too.

Too Much Hype = Giant Disappointment
written by BrodiesGirl June 25, 2005 - 5:37 AM PDT
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I did not enjoy this movie. It was a bit surprising, because so many people I know and trust enjoyed the movie. The hype may have effected my viewing, there is no real way to be certain.
My main problem with the movie: it has a real hard-on desire to be a Wes Anderson/Spike Jonze film. I believe the actors did a decent job with what they were given to work with. In fact, the actors played these boring and pointless characters to a tee.
While I am usually entertained by super dry humor, this movie simply did not deliver. It had WAY too much realitic dryness without the humor to save it. Perhaps that was the point of the movie? That it is just as boring as the pointless lives of the character? If that's true, it doesn't change the fact that the movie is still painfully boring and barely squeezed a single chuckle out of me.

Let's hope the next movie I see is entertaining or at the very least interesting/educating. I've been on a bad streak....

try Mussolini Firecracker
written by viciouscircle June 21, 2005 - 12:45 AM PDT
5 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Napoleon Dynamite just doesn't work. My primary frustration with this film is that it is comedic ally voyeuristic in that the humour is derived from a specifically third-person (and ironic) look at the characters. We are clearly intended to laugh at the ridiculousness of the characters - to the point that even the main character is represented without any depth or vigor. This voyeurism creates an asymmetry with the narrative - in which we are ultimately encouraged to be our own unique person and follow our hearts . This message is delivered rather haphazardly and abruptly at the end of the movie, and only after we have spent the whole film laughing at the expense of some truly 'unique' people. Because of this, the message totally fails to have any impact. It's a have your cake and eat it too scenario, and for me it just doesn't work.

For counterpoint, consider the Farrelly's Stuck on You which operates in the same manner but (in contrast to ND) ultimately creates a sympathetic bond with the main characters. I felt that the Farrelly movie was careful with it's use of laughs-at-the-expense-of and in the fourth act drove home the point that the viewer was equally culpable of wrong-doing as the antagonists. At the end of Napoleon Dynamite, I was left feeling "So what?".

Misgivings about the point and tact of the film aside, ND just isn't that funny. I think I got maybe three or four chuckles out the movie (and I felt guilty afterwards). There are far more astute and interesting absurdist comedies (see: Wes Anderson, the Coens, Woody Allen, etc.). Ultimately, I felt that ND completely failed to establish any sense of personal style or exposition (nonetheless comedy) and it came across as over-wrought, self-conscious and contrived. The movie took no chances and yet the point of the movie is to do so ...

So what?

Not "Dynamite," Maybe--but a Nice, Little Bang
written by talltale January 23, 2005 - 4:13 PM PST
4 out of 9 members found this review helpful
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE will either grab you big-time or have you climbing the walls ("The worst movie I've ever seen," said my son-in-law, while my daughter loved it). We liked it, too, although it took some time before we finally abdicated our misgivings and let these characters win us over.

The tone of the film is highly original; I can't really compare it to much else I've seen. (The work of Wes Anderson has been bandied about as a possible inspiration, but I find the sensibility of his films very different from this one.) All the characters here also seem much more unique and funny than the group of quirky jerks that populate another Fox Searchlight film of the same summer: "Garden State."

We may never again hear from some of these folk (Tina Majorino and Jon Gries have already proven themselves fine actors--particularly Gries), but on the basis of directing/writing (Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess) and performing (Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez and Shondrella Avery), due to this single--very weird--film, the entire group should be guaranteed a snatch of immortality.


(Average 6.40)
555 Votes
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