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.
Click here to return to the Neighborhood.