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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Movie Review: Napoleon Dynamite 

I can only imagine that watching Napoleon Dynamite under the influence of, well, any legal or even illegal substance, would enhance its comedic affect. The movie, in fact, screams "stoner comedy." Oddly enough, I laughed my way through its bizarre 85 minutes, stone cold sober.

There's not much a plot to speak of. And character development? Forget about it. In fact, Napoleon Dynamite (the movie) tosses the traditional elements of film aside the way Napoleon Dynamite (the character) tosses "Summer 4 President" buttons. If that bothers you, then I'd have to wonder why you're watching this movie in the first place.

It doesn't take long to figure out what's going on. Napoleon's the ultimate oddball -- more "out there" than Max Fischer (Rushmore), but less MTV sterotype than one of William Lichter's nerdy sidekicks (Can't Hardly Wait). He's the fantasy nerd that would probably spend his time reading comics, playing "Magic: The Gathering" or "Dungeons and Dragons," and watching the Sci-Fi channel, if only he didn't live in the Sticksville, Idaho, where everyone still watches VHS tapes on the 13" TVs, sans cable, while paying for dial-up Internet by the minute.

Yep, he's a dork. But at the same time he's your typical every day American teen-ager. He hates his brother, hates his life, and longs for the affection of that elusive "soulmate." Like I said, though, you're not watching because of the story. You watch to see what Napoleon will do next.

From coming on to girls ("I see you're drinking 1% milk. Is that because you think you're fat? Because you're not. You could probably be drinking whole milk.") to encouraging his friends ("Well, you have a sweet bike. And you're really good at hooking up with chicks. Plus you're like the only guy at school who has a mustache."), Napoleon has a line for everything, usually punctuated with a "gosh," heck," or if he's really worked up, "flipping."

You can't help but feel bad for the poor kid while you laugh at his expense. But in the end he learns to dance, gets the girl and helps stage the most triumphant geek victory since the Lambda Lambda Lambda boys won the Homecoming Carnival. What does it all mean? Not a whole helluva lot. But you'll probably be too busy laughing to care.



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