Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Napoleon Dynamite

Year: 2004
Running time: 82 minutes
Certificate: 12
Language: English
Screenplay: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Director: Jared Hess
Starring: Jon Heder, Tina Majorino, Aaron Ruell, Jon Gries, Efren Ramirez, Sandy Martin, Haylie Duff

Napoleon Dynamite: too cool for school.
Sometimes a character is created that is unfathomably popular. Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) is one of these; obnoxious, teenage, bizarre, and yet, somehow, lovable. You’re on his side. Almost all the characters in this movie are oddballs, but that’s kind of its charm. It’s a small film, following these guys about their daily lives, where nothing much happens in their forgotten corner of the world. Napoleon lives with his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) who spends his days trying to meet women in Internet chat rooms. When Napoleon's grandmother (Sandy Martin) - no parents in Napoleon's world - injures herself, his uncle Rico (Jon Gries) moves in to look after them while she recovers.

And then, well, nothing much. Their lives go on in their oddball way. Napoleon makes a friend in new arrival Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and there is an attempt to make Pedro class president. Kip joins uncle Rico in his work as a door-to-door salesman and there is a love interest in Deb (Tina Majorino). What people sometimes fail to realise is that most corners of the world are like this – small, uneventful and full of people that don’t fit the definition of ‘normal’. I would imagine that this, as out there as it is, might be closer to most teenagers' realities than High School Musical ever will be. And while the events may be small, they are big to the people they’re happening to. It’s quite touching at times, like the dance which Napoleon shares with Deb, who is there as Pedro’s date, and one of the final scenes where he’s not alone for once on the tetherball pole.
Deb's hair, like most things in this film, seems to be stuck in the 80s.

Much was made of the dance routine near the end, in which Napoleon steps up and supports his friend Pedro in a genius skit showcasing Jon Heder’s gift for physical comedy. However, for my money that is upstaged by the moment uncle Rico throws a steak in Napoleon's face. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything funnier.

Certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but worth a punt.

Score: 7/10

Unsurprisingly this got rather a mixed reception on its release; see this fairly positive review by Adrian at the BBC and this one from Edward isn't without misgivings.