Napoleon Dynamite

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(2004) ★★★★½

Film4: Tuesday 10 November, 7.10pm

Jon Heder as high school geek Napoleon Dynamite, dealing as best he can with life in a no-account Idaho town. He fights with his weakling older brother Aaron Ruell and sneers at the get-rich-quick schemes of his uncle Jon Gries, a shifty tupperware salesman called Rico. He tells tall stories about hunting wolverines in Alaska and draws spaceships and centaurs.

For the class current event he reports on Japanese scientists’ attempts to blow up Loch Ness. Local wizards, he reports, cast spells to protect our underwater ally Nessie. He wishes he could grow a moustache like Efren Ramirez, the Mexican kid that no-one else talks to. “How was school?” asks grandma, innocently. “The worst day of my life!” snaps Napoleon.

He has misgivings about working with battery hens. “Do the chickens have large talons?” He’s dismissive of his uncle’s home movie. “This is pretty much the worst video ever made.” “Napoleon!” his brother admonishes. “Like anyone can know that.” With his T-shirt tucked into jeans and his jeans tucked into moonboots, Napoleon Dynamite is the world’s unlikeliest hero. Everything’s funny about the guy.

Curled lip and curly hair. Mouth agape, he moans and sighs. He despairs of his peers – “You guys are retards!” – and hides corn snacks in his trousers. He’s squirmingly self-conscious and his movements, despite D-Quon’s Dance Grooves, are stiff and deeply uncoordinated. Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge, you think, would approve of such brazen geek chic: Napoleon Dynamite is Donnie Dorko.

A sublimely weird one-off that cuts much deeper than mere quirk. Director Jared Hess tried to repeat the trick with School of Rock writer Mike White on Jack Black’s wrestling flop Nacho Libre and on Gentlemen Broncos, with Jemaine Clement. “You guys are retards!”

Certificate: PG

Duration: 95min

IMDB – Napoleon Dynamite

TMDB – Napoleon Dynamite

Rotten Tomatoes – Napoleon Dynamite

Other Showings Date & Time
Film4 Sunday, 15 November at 3:05PM