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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Art House & International and Comedy movie directed by Jared Hess

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Dry humor and well done, but not great

  • Nov 14, 2008
  • by
If you are looking for overt, laugh aloud humor, then you will be disappointed in Napoleon Dynamite. Any real verbal or visual humor is very deadpan and subtle, and hard to miss if you are seeking out a belly laugh.

The funniest part of the entire movie is the characters themselves, who go beyond nerd into the land of dweebs so inept that they are the ones that pass beyond the notice of society. They are not handsome or beautiful, they are not smart, they have no talents, they are not social, and they are not even gifted with humor or likeable personalities. They quite literally have absolutely nothing going for them except an exchange of oxygen and an ability to ambulate.

There is Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) who is a skinny, slack open-mouth-breather with frizzy orange hair and pants worn so high they look like they are eating him. He is sullen and caustic, making up ridiculous stories that make him seem more important. He lives with his fast-living Grandmother (Sandy Martin) and his 32-year-old unemployed brother Kip (Aaron Ruell). Kip is skinny, poorly dressed, distinctly stupid, and spends his entire day in chat rooms on his PC.

Grandma gets injured while jumping her Quad over a sand dune, and sends Uncle Rico to watch the "boys". Uncle Rico (played by Jon Gries) is an even older loser who lives in a hideous orange van, and constantly wishes he could time travel back to 1982 to change the outcome of a football game that he believes would have made him famous. He makes his living doing door-to-door sales of everything from Tupperware to bust-enhancers.

Don't forget to watch this movie all the way to the end of the credits. After the final credits, there is another entire scene to watch that you won't want to miss.

Napoleon Dynamite is well acted and well filmed, but is more a study in human ineptness rather than an outright comedy. I would have liked to have seen more of Grandma in the movie, I believe she could have brought a little action and a few more laughs to the film. Over all, not bad, but not good either. My preference would have been to give it only 3.5 stars, but gave `Napoleon' the benefit of the doubt. Recommendation: rent, don't buy.
Napoleon Dynamite

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December 03, 2009
Nice review. My kids and I still laugh over certain lines from the movie. It has a cult following.
More Napoleon Dynamite (2004 movie) reviews
Quick Tip by . October 17, 2009
As a complete movie, I didn't find it necessarily compelling, but the characters create some memorable (and imitate-able) scenes.
review by . December 30, 2008
A lot of people like Napoleon Dynamite and I understand why if your sense of humor is similar to what the movie was aiming for. But for me, I have a far more sarcastic sense of humor so this film just didn't cut it.    However, there was one scene that I found mildly entertaining. It was where the farmer puts down the cow in front of a school bus full of children. The irony is just too great (killing a cow to put it out of its "misery" but inadvertently traumatizing dozens of …
review by . February 08, 2006
In the wake of independent pictures and original films, this seems to be one of the prized selections in those categories. Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing what I consider one of the funniest and most interesting film I've seen in awhile.    Dynamite is one weird kid. He has the most eccentric, odd, loser family in Idaho and he dons odd clothing, hairstyles, and participates in random, mundane activities. But, that's what makes him interesting, what makes the film interesting. …
review by . November 10, 2005
Pros: funny, unusual, soundtrack, characters     Cons: a few unrealistic moments, slow-moving, Napoleon's affect     The Bottom Line: "Want to play me?"     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Writer/director Jared Hess sets Napoleon Dynamite in his hometown of Preston, Idaho with a mixture of tenderness and mockery. I expected Napoleon Dynamite to be dark, disturbing, and somewhat depressing, but it’s …
review by . March 15, 2005
At some point in our lives, we've all been the geek. Some of us(like myself), have been the geek one too many times. This film lets us laugh at those who are geeks, those who beat up the geeks, and the snobby little popular girls who toy with the geeks.    The film is basically about a few days in the life of a not-so-likeable dork named Napoleon, and his more likeable friend, Pedro, as well as his chatroom-happy brother, Kip, and his uncle, Rico. They are all losers in one way …
review by . January 30, 2005
I did not watch Napoleon Dynamite until it came out on DVD. The first words out of Napoleon's mouth in response to a question about what he's going to do that day were, "I'll do whatever I want to do. Gosh!" Then he proceeds to throw an action figure out the window of the school bus tied to a piece of string. My brothers-in-law who had already seen the movie repeated the line and then all started laughing hysterically when he threw the GI Joe out the window. I said to myself, "This is stupid." My …
review by . January 14, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Chapped Stick, Chapped Lips, and things like Tetherball.    As an independant film maker, I walk into any such film with an open mind, and wish them the best of luck. This time, it was all I could do to contain myself. Now everyone I know has heard about Napoleon Dynamite.    There are many incredible things about the picture. First, its a simple story without any extravagances. No melodramatic overtones, nor the cardboard cut-out characteristics, just a laid …
review by . December 31, 2004
Here's a review from a 41 year old man. I've read lots of reviews of this movie that absolutely trash it. And obviously, it's become quite a "cult" hit amongst a younger crowd. In fact, it was my 17 year old son who insisted my wife and I see it. And we immediately loved it, from the delightful opening credits to Napolean's first line "Whatever I want to! Gosh!!"    The critics who have trashed it frequently say that it makes fun of its characters...that it condescends to them. …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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About this movie


Napoleon Dynamite is a 2004 film written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by the former. The film, an American independent comedy, chronicles the adventures of Napoleon Dynamite, a character in the movie. After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004, the film was later widely released in August of the same year and eventually grossed over $44 million, well over its filming budget of $400,000.

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Director: Jared Hess
Screen Writer: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
DVD Release Date: December 21, 2004
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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