Napoleon Dynamite


A curious film, Napoleon Dynamite feels like an attempt at the retro feel and quirky humour of Ghost World, yet doesn’t have the same surprising insight that Terry Zwigoff’s brilliant film did.

Napoleon DynamiteFirst of all Napoleon Dynamite confused me. It seems to be firmly entrenched in the 80s, yet we see rollerblades, mobile phones and the internet. Not to mention hearing Jamiroquai and N*Sync. Whilst the music could be considered non-diegetic, the other items cannot be explained away. Unless of course this is supposed to be an incredibly retro town… or the filmmakers simply forgot that we haven’t had such luxuries for very long.

Anyway, putting that aside, this is a cute film, that makes you smile and occasionally laugh, yet never seems particularly relevant (to anything). Where The Castle might poke fun at the Australian stereotype, and American Pie at teenage boys, this is an extreme comedy that doesn’t seem to have a point.

The performances are fine, but the central character was simply too off-putting to provoke any sympathy. I felt uncomfortable with his social ineptness, rather than relating or at least understanding how he felt. Tina Majorino was great as Deb, and I certainly enjoyed the film a lot more when she was present.

There’s a four minute scene after the credits, that made us feel special for staying behind, but all the same time was simply an extra four minutes that could have been put at the end of the film anyway.

Mildly entertaining at best, pointless at worst.

Rating: 2.0 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 6th December 2004
Hoopla Factor: 1.5 stars

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