Directed by Jared Hess.
Written by Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess.
Starring Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino and Jon Gries.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 6/30/04
I had a freebie to go see this flick a month
ago when it came through D.C. on a promo tour, but I passed on it,
and it always takes me a while to get around to paying for a film
that I had a shot at seeing for free. Finally, I caught up
with "Napoleon Dynamite" tonight and I must say...I'm not quite sure
what all of the hype was about.
Don't get me wrong--you need to see
"Napoleon Dynamite", because the film is beautiful in a number of
ways, from the beautiful Idaho countryside to the beautiful use of
the static shots throughout the film (it will remind you of
Tenenbaums" in a hundred ways) to...well, the sheer beauty of
the performance by Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite, who won't win the
Oscar for this performance but ought to get a lot of votes, cause
this is some great, great shit.
There really is no plot to the film; it's
just a kind of "week in the life" roundup of a standard issue week
for Napoleon, his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), his uncle Rico (Jon
Gries), his new buddy Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and a new ladyfriend
named Deb (Tina Majorino), all of whom spend their time hangin' out
in Idaho, city unknown. Along the way, there's a dance, a
dance tape, a school election, a taekwondo class, and...well, you
just need to see it.
My problems with the flick were mostly
related to the one-trick-ness of it all; sure, Napoleon as written
is hilarious, and as a character creation, Heder knocks it out of
the park. But, his antics get very repetitive very quickly,
sometimes in the same scene. From his dialogue rhythms, to the
way he snaps his head back to drink Kool-Aid, to his long deadpan
stares, "Napoleon Dynamite" has great moments, but as a 30-minute
comedy, it would be the greatest 30-minute comedy of all time
because the thing wouldn't have gotten old so quickly. In
fact, I'm just impressed that director Jared Hess got 85 minutes out
of this, because some of this gets old quickly.
or any Todd Solondz film, the quirkiness of the characters and the
awkward pauses are amusing for a while, but in "Napoleon Dynamite"
they seem to wear out more quickly. I liked the scenes with
the uncle, or when Kip finally gets the chance to meet his chat-room
girlfriend, but did you get the feeling that Hess was using the
sales-pitch sequences with Rico to fill up time? After a
while, I wasn't as happy when Rico was onscreen, and he gets less
and less funny all film long.
But, you contrast all of this with some
funny lines from Napoleon, or quietly cool scenes featuring the
developing friendship between the three school outcasts (Deb, Pedro
and Napoleon), or the real barnburner in the film, a dance scene
featuring our lead dancing to Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat", and you
have yourself a great moments film that won't last in my mind
forever, but if it's on TNT next year I'll watch it just to see the
Fun movie. A bit overrated, but still
a film that, with a good audience, will be a great time at the
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard