Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Comedy
Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.
A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy.
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 27 Aug 2004 Released:
  • 21 Dec 2004 DVD Release:
  • $44.5M Box office:

Trailer:

Funny and unique!7/10
Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) is the typical sad-sack, luckless loser that has permeated high schools for seemingly centuries. He has no friends, he's picked on by bullies, he has a somewhat-odd home life ... but through it all, he's sure things will be just plain okay in the end.

Napoleon and his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) live with their grandmother, but at the beginning of the film she tells them she needs to take off for a couple days. Enter their Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), a self-starter who's living in 1982 (when the coach of his high school football team declined to put him in as quarterback, thus altering Rico's life forever). Some of the funniest scenes in the film involve Napoleon's often-combative relationship with Uncle Rico; Rico is also bound and determined to return to those halcyon days of his youth via a time machine he's seen advertised on the Internet, and he enlists Kip to help him raise the funds.

Napoleon befriends the new kid in school, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), who has a sweet bike, can talk to girls, and has an actual mustache. But like Napoleon, Pedro is a misfit. Both sometimes hang out with yet another taciturn student, Deb (Tina Majorino, all grown up from Waterworld), who secretly (it seems) likes Napoleon. But there isn't a lot of focus on their relationship, because Napoleon himself is fairly oblivious to how people perceive him. This isn't a story about young love or lust, it's a story about a misfit refusing to fit - while fitting in with others like him.

Jon Heder is perfectly cast as the gawky, dorky Napoleon; he resembles Butt-Head in countenance, although certainly not in temperament or intelligence. Mouth agape and with an awkward gait, Napoleon is about as odd a duck as you'd find in high school, and yet he still manages to survive with his dignity intact. He's a good egg, although he seems to overreact at times: "What are you gonna do today, Napoleon? Napoleon: Whatever I feel like I wanna do.....GOSH!" Still, his delivery is perfect. You can readily picture a Napoleon in any high school.

I think where the film ultimately succeeds, aside from the casting of Heder, is that it doesn't fall into the traps of predictability and stereotyping. Sure, it's a high school movie, and there are snobby pretty girls and arrogant jocks, but not much time is devoted to them. Sure, there's a big dance, but it doesn't necessarily turn out the way you'd expect it to. What you're left with, then, isn't a typical coming-of-age story, but rather a unique take on a rather mundane - albeit life-altering - time in a boy's life.
Not Realistic?10/10
This movie is quite possibly the funniest movie ever. It doesn't have much of a storyline, but in this case, it doesn't matter. I keep reading reviews that say it isn't believable. Anyone who has attended High School in the last 10 years knows that this movie portrays exactly what it is like. Who doesn't know someone exactly like Napoleon? Or Pedro? Or Summer? Or Deb? Or Don? There are Napoleons, Pedros, Summers, Debs, and Dons in EVERY American High School. One of the funniest parts about this movie is that it IS so accurate. And who hasn't run across an internet geek like Kip? This movie is filled with jokes about our culture today. I haven't met one person yet who has seen it and not liked it. Talk about a cult classic in the making. The film uses witty humor, and a little goofy humor. It's the PERFECT film for light comedy. If you're into those kind of films that make you think a lot, this one definitely isn't for you. On the other hand, if you laugh at things like Napoleon getting psyched for a milk-testing contest, or lying about hunting wolverines in Alaska, exaggerating about his bow staff skills or his brother bragging about chatting online with "babes" all day, you can't go wrong. (10/10)
TOO FUNNY!5/10
It seems based on many of the comments on this site that certain folks may be expecting a bit too much from a movie such as 'Napoleon Dynamite.'

This ain't art cinema, folks. It's absurdist comedy. Don't go to see this film looking for deep meaning or well-constructed plot--the vague semblance of a plot is as artificial as they come, and seems inserted mostly to give the film structure and to permit the audience a somewhat 'happy' ending.

NO, Napoleon Dynamite isn't about changing the world--it's live action 'South Park' (Preston, Idaho, where the film is set, actually bears a strong resemblance to the real South Park, Colorado). It's a highly ironic, self-mocking, merciless run of sight gags and one liners with no apparent purpose other than to get laughs at the expense of its main characters, especially the eponymous Napoleon, a fit stand-in for everyone who's ever felt like a socially inept outcast trapped in the hell of high school.

This movie isn't for everybody, but if you don't see glimpses of your own childhood in the various awkwardnesses and failures of the main characters, you're in denial. Don't see Napoleon Dynamite if you're expecting sensitivity--go see it if you're pissed off at the world and just need to laugh. I saw it for the first time last night, and I'm still busting into spontaneous laughter whenever one of Napoleon's silly one-liners or blank-faced dead-pan non-sequitirs comes to mind.
You have to "get it" before you find it funny. And it is VERY funny.9/10
The love/hate reactions I've seen do not surprise me at all. This movie is very different, it's own style... and it is PURE GENIUS. But it's definitely not for everyone... you have to back off and understand the mood and general feel of the movie before you have the context to find the actions of the characters funny. Then you will "get it". And what is this context I'm referring to? This movie explores the very essence of boredom and mediocrity as you follow the daily life of a dorky guy doing uninteresting things in a small, unexciting town. Napolean's constant, open-mouth, blank stare says, "I'm only tolerating this monotonous existence because I've got nothing better to do." It took me about 15 minutes into the movie and then I GOT it. The movie has no real plot because it isn't about an interesting story, it's about the real life that exists BETWEEN the interesting stories. Ever call up your bud because you're bored, then talk about what you're not doing, then decide to get together and be bored together, and spend the remainder of the evening trying to think of something to do to no avail? This movie is about this very type of thing... a tribute to the ordinary every-day stuff that you have no reason or desire to remember... like eating reheated leftover Hamburger Helper, or that old shirt you wear when you're working that you're not afraid to get dirty, or some magazine you flipped through to pass the time in the dentist's waiting room.

I constantly found myself saying, "This all seems too strangely familiar. I knew a guy like that. I've done stuff like that. I've been to a store like that. I've been in a house like that." This isn't the kind of movie to make you suddenly laugh out loud, it's a movie that will first make you chuckle, and then chuckle some more, and pretty soon you can't stop laughing as scenes and characters continuously remind you about the absurdity of watching random, stupid pointlessness. Why would something boring be interesting to watch? You'll just have to see it to understand.
Awesome!5/10
I have to say I was so intrigued by the mixed responses to this film on this board I had to see it. In my opinion it was the best movie I have seen in years. I am so tired of the typical BS Hollywood crap, and this movie was far from that. Napoleon was indeed dynamite! The first couple minutes I was kinda worried that the naysayers were right, but as the movie continued I couldn't stop laughing! And for those how think that it was wrong to exploit the nerds in society, you definitely missed the whole point of the movie. It wasn't exploited them, it was more celebrating them and their uniqueness. And as for being unrealistic, this movie was more realistic than any movie I have seen. That was part of what made it hilarious. Not doubt this will be a cult classic! GO NAPOLEON!

I give this film a 10 out of 10