Movie Review: Napoleon Dynamite is the up and coming college cult-classic

Step onto a college campus for a day or two, and you might eventually be asked, “Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite? That movie is hilarious!”

In fact, you won’t find many college students who haven’t seen the movie. After walking out of the theater, you might find you’re confused about what the movie is actually about, amazed at how ridiculously funny it was and left with a desire to see it again. It is hard not to find it constantly being quoted among teenagers.

Napoleon Dynamite (played by Jon Heder) is a gangly, high-school-aged, mouth-breathing geek. He lives with his grandmother and much older brother in Preston, Idaho. Everything about him is awkward, from his bushy and unmanageable hair, to the way he talks to girls. But he seems totally ignorant of his unpopularity at school (or maybe he knows about it, and just does not care). His brother, Kip, (Aaron Ruell) is not much different. Kip is a 32-year-old loser who still lives at home and spends all day chatting online with “babes” rather than actually doing something with his life.

When their grandmother (Sandy Martin) jumps a sand dune on her ATV and is hospitalized, their home is invaded by their Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), who comes to baby-sit. Obsessed with the past and full of regret, their sleazy uncle, who unsurprisingly is a salesman, ends up terrorizing Napoleon.

Meanwhile at school, Napoleon makes two new friends. One is Pedro (Efren Ramirez), whom he helps to win the student body presidential election. The other is awkward and shy Deb, (Tina Majorino), who gives the story a mere whisper of a romantic plot.

Nothing about the actual plot is hilarious, or even funny, however.

What is funny is his irritable attitude, his tater-tot eating methods and moments like when Napoleon tries to pick up a girl: “I see you’re drinking 1%. Is that ’cause you think you’re fat? ‘Cause you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted.”

Kip contributes to the hilarity as well, when, unattractive as he is, he gets his online girlfriend to come visit him and she ends up being a beautiful black woman, LaFawnduh (Shondrella Avery).

Movie viewers argue over the time period of the movie. It might be set in the 80s, if it were not for high school girls in the movie dancing to The Backstreet Boys, which makes for some interesting debates. The seemingly modern setting and the evidence reminiscent of the 80s (the brightly-colored clothing, trapper keepers and friendship bracelets) contradict one another and leave you wondering if the small Idaho town is really just behind the times.

Napoleon Dynamite was directed by Jared Hess and is a successful product of Fox Searchlight and MTV Films.

The movie is rated G, which means that a film loved by most teenagers can have absolutely no sex scenes, no profanity and no real violence. This also means that the movie can be enjoyed by children.

Grown-ups might not “get it,” though.

*Napoleon Dynamite is scheduled to be released on DVD/VIDEO by December 21.

Comments are closed.