Monday, November 03, 2008

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Part of my duty as a movie reviewer is not just to recommend films I enjoyed, but to tell you about films I did not enjoy. Of course, you are more than welcome to take my opinions with a grain of salt and make up your own minds about what to watch. I fully expect dissenting opinions. That’s why it’s so great to have so many different kinds of movies made each year – there’s something to appeal to every taste.

With that rather lengthy disclaimer out of the way, I shall now launch into my review of “Napoleon Dynamite,” which, I’m told, is rather a favorite amongst certain of our young people. I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’m just getting old or what, but this was honestly the strangest movie I’ve ever watched.

I blame my husband for the whole thing. It was his birthday and he wanted to see it. Well, how do you deny the birthday boy his wish? I put the movie in my Netflix queue and it arrived in time for his birthday. We sat down and watched it together. He laughed. I did not.

I’m a bit hard-pressed to summarize the plot, as there really wasn’t one. But I’ll do my best.

Napoleon lives with his brother Kip and his grandmother in a small Idaho town. When Grandma needs emergency surgery, Uncle Rico comes to keep an eye on the boys while Grandma recovers at the hospital. Napoleon helps his new friend Pedro run for class president, meets a shy girl named Deb, and tells his uncle to take a hike when his get-rich-quick schemes get him in trouble. Oh, and Kip runs off with a woman he met online.

Each of these storylines could have been developed into something interesting, yet the movie was organized into bits and pieces. We got just a couple minutes into one storyline before we were whisked off into another. I didn’t feel that anything was developed enough to give us a story. And the things we did get … were dumb.

Napoleon is a hapless teenager who isn’t very smart, isn’t very athletic, isn’t very talented, and essentially has nothing going for him at all. And I mean, at all. The movie makers could at least have made him a sympathetic character so we cared what happened to him, but his ornery attitude kept me from identifying with him. If he’d shown a softer side, I would have been in his corner. As it was, I spent the movie thinking, “Why should I care what happens to this cranky, snotty kid?”

My husband said the movie was typical of small town life and he thought it was great. Well, I’ve lived in a few small towns myself, and I don’t see it. I have gathered, though, that this is more of a guy’s movie. Maybe if I were a guy, I’d be all over it.

I’ve heard people say, “I love to quote that movie.” You know, I was listening pretty carefully because I love a great movie quote. (My favorite of all time? “Obviously you’ve never been to Singapore.” Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl) But I didn’t pick up on anything “quotable” in the film. The writing was so-so, the acting was so-so, the story was so-so.

I’m sorry for such a rambling, disorganized review, but I have to say, that exactly matches the tone of the movie. It was rambling. It was disorganized. It just didn’t have any substance to it. I can’t even say it was fun in a silly sort of way. There wasn’t enough fun to qualify.

Again, I know some of you will probably just love it. But I have to call ‘em as I see ‘em. And I say, waste of time. It was pretty clean, though.

This film was rated PG.

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Heather B. Moore said...

You have to watch it twice--I know, it sounds like torture. The first time I watched it, I just basically stared at the screen. The next time I actually found it funny. It's definitely "lame" humor--which appeals to boys more than girls.

Tristi Pinkston said...

You want me to watch it again? Can't I scrub out my refrigerator instead -- you know, do something fun?? :)

Amanda said...

Woo-hoo! Tristi, you're the third person, besides myself, that I've ever known who didn't enjoy this movie. The others include my husband and my sister. Everyone else I've ever met loved it. I don't get it, I really don't. People told me I'd have to be from Idaho to get it. Don't ask me. Either way, I thought it was boring and lame and not in the least bit funny.

ps - Pirates (Black Pearl) has some wonderful lines in it! My fav is "Not probable." :D

Amanda said...

Oh, and I don't think it has anything to do with your age. I watched it when I was 25, my husband was 24, my sister was 23...

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm glad to hear that -- I was starting to feel ancient.

Jennifer said...

Heather's right - you have to watch it twice. I can't really remember why we watched it the second time because neither my husband nor I got it the first time. Maybe it was just because of all the rave reviews. But, whatever the case may be, the second time around, we laughed so hard we had to pause the movie for minutes at a time to collect ourselves. And neither of us likes slapstick comedy at all. I can't really say why we laughed. It's an enigma.

As for a quote:
Napoleon: Do the chickens have large talons?
Farmer: Do they have what?
Napoleon: Large talons.
Farmer: I don't understand a word you just said.

I totally agree with your review on the first time thorough, though. :D

Anna said...

This is one movie that I differ in opinion. :)

The first time I watched this movie, I left during the middle of it. My in laws were watching it over the Christmas holiday one year. I thought it was stupid and made no sense.

My husband got it for a Christmas present, so we had it at our house. He liked it, so I watched the whole thing with him another time. I actually started to like it. It is a stupid movie with strange humor. But for some reason I like it.

My 4 year old also likes this movie. We bought Disney movies, thinking he might enjoy Tarzan or something. The only movie he would sit through the entire movie was Napoleon Dynamite and Shrek. Go figure.. I guess our family just has a strange sense of humor. :)

Keeley said...

You have to watch it a few times. The first time I saw it I was like "What the heck?"

And then I found myself quoting bits of it over the next few days.

Ben wanted to see it again for his birthday, so we all reluctantly dragged ourselves to see it - then laughed ourselves silly. Hahaha! It was great. And even better the third time around.

I love it that the young lady Napoleon liked was the young girl that starred with Kevin Costner in Waterworld?

How did I figure this out? It was while she was eating. She eats the same way she did when she was little. =) =)

Framed said...

You couldn't pay me to watch it again. I'm secure in my not liking it. My son was delighted when I gave him my copy.

G. Parker said...

We literally could feel the brain cells dying as we watched. The only part I found funny was the bit where he danced on stage. Otherwise...ugh. Totally agree with you. At least he's done better parts (somewhat) since then. My VT companion is an Aunt to the kid who made the movie. I try not to talk about it too much in front of

Lost but Found said...

Tristi, I am right there with you! Dumbest movie I have ever had the misfortune to have to watch. How it got the acclaim that it did is beyond me.

Keith Fisher said...

Okay so I admit it. I've never seen this, never wanted to. and I do think it's an age thing. I run into people all the time who are twenty years younger than me and they all make references to the show. I sit there clueless.

that's probably why your husband wanted to see it. It is the only reason I would . . . just to understand the reference.

okay I admit that too. I'm dating myself and I'm older than dirt

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