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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Brandon Conway, Apr 17, 2004.
Brief film description here
Wow, that's the funniest trailer I've seen in awhile. Looks like a mix of "Rushmore", "Election" and "Freaks & Geeks".
Yeah, very funny trailer. Good descrption Mike.
I'll be seeing this solely for the following reason: "Napoleon Dynamite" was a pseudonym for Elvis Costello back in the mid-80's. And I have vowed to watch anything that is either Costello-related or namechecks the man. Which also explains why I'll be seeing De-lovely this year.
Looks promising to me.
I don't see it playing anywhere in Chicago yet but I definitely want to see it.
EDIT: If you can get to Evanston, sign up for a free preview.
Thursday, Jun 17 7:30 PM Century CineArts 6, Evanston
Oh lord, this movie is nowhere near the level of those fine offerings! Don't get your hopes up. For us it had a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, a few smile-inducing moments, and the rest of the time was pure frustration for them not following through on genuinely clever ideas.
Btw, there is nothing special about Napolean's name. What I mean is, it's just his name. It's not a nickname, and there's nothing behind the name. It's mentioned once but it might as well have been "Bill Smith." That's one of a hundred examples of missed opportunities, in our opinion.
I don't like to be negative about movies, so I won't say any more, but I don't want anyone to go in with "Election/Rushmore/Freaks & Geeks" expectations.
after finally getting around to seeing it tonight, I'm glad that it lived up to my shameless promotion. I laughed my butt off, to say the least.
The movie is simply hilarious in a goofball "I remember those guys in high school" kind of way.
A lot of people want to compare this movie to Rushmore, which is a mistake. It isn't trying to be anywhere near as intellectual as Rushmore, and frankly the two films would never be compared if they didn't both take place in a high school.
The part that got the biggest laugh from me was the head shake by Pedro's cousin. I don't want to say more since very few of you have seen it, but those that have know what I mean.
Anyway - a must see, IMO.
Oh - one final thing. I actually had no idea that one of my BYU professors, Tom Lefler, was in the film. He plays the principal. Way to go, Tom!
I for one am glad there's nothing special about his name. It doesn't need to draw more attention to itself by what would be easy jokes for a quick laugh. The fact that it's accepted as normal is why it works.
I posted my thoughts in the 2004 Foreign, Alternative and Independent Films thread before the film got a wider release. I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion of it.
You have to wait until all the credits are over.
I think they might have put that scene behind the credits because of a boom-mic that crept into the frame in a couple of shots...
I saw this yesterday and really enjoyed it. I can see that it's clearly not for most, but I laughed a whole bunch and had a smile on my face for most of the rest. Granted there were a few places where some editing would have helped and the story is threadbare, but all in all it was exactly what I expected from the trailer. And I missed the extra five minutes too...damn.
As a comparison, the last comedy I saw was "Dodgeball". I probably laughed 4 times at much at "Napoleon Dynamite". I'd give it a 3.5 stars out of 5.
Agreed. The material was sort of confusing, but I always felt a strange emotional connection to it. Strange, off-beat, and hilarious. I will definitely revisit it when it comes out on DVD.
I'm hoping to cath this later today, if I make it I'll post back with my thoughts....
Actually we did, but no luck. Still a great little flick, everyone that has the opportunity should go see it.
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Few movies make me actually angry for people falling for the condescending crap being thrown at them, but Napoleon Dynamite manages it. It's not just that there's no point to the film, it's just so self conscious and so deliberate in its attempts to be "weird" and retro. Traits are established for the characters and go nowhere. Each actor is giving a stunt performance. From Jon Gries as the uncle wearing an atrocious wig, but no mention is made of it, on down to the smallest nuance. The movie seems to take place currently (Napoleon's 32 year old nerdy brother, who looks and sounds like Thomas Lennon putting on a voice, has an internet girlfriend), but the styles of the homes are all 1982, and Gries' character is obsessed with 1982, and even buys a time machine trying to go back to that year. And if you notice, Napoleon even has a Dragonslayer movie poster (which was released in 1981), even though the idea is that he's in high school, and shown as so out of touch that he probably wouldn't be aware of the film. But everyone else in school, other than Napoleon and his love interest (Tina Majorina, the little girl from Corrina, Corrina) dresses "currently," so clearly the idea is to make them all out to be really dorky for a laugh. When they go to buy a suit for the prom, the only one that seems to be up for display in the entire store is a hideous brown one which will only accentuate Napoleon's gawkiness. But no one else at the prom is dressed this badly.
Consider the opening scene: Napoleon, gangly, squinting and highly jewfroed (and who looks like a 30 year old pretending to be 17) gets on a school bus, where he is amidst about sixty 10-11 year olds. He skulks to the back and sits in the very last seat. The kid next to him asks, "Napoleon, what are you gonna do today?" Angrily (without reason), he responds, "Whatever the hell I feel like!" So he proceeds to open up his imitation Trapper notebook and pull out an action figure which is tied to a string. He undoes all the string, opens the window, and throws the figure out the window. The figure is still attached to the string so it drags behind the bus while Napoleon holds the string. The kid watches the figure through the back of the bus, but Napoleon just hold the string and never even turns around. Why does he do this? For whose benefit? All he is doing is holding a string but the director keeps cutting back to the figure being dragged behind the bus in the dirt road. So it seems as if Napoleon is doing it for our amusement, because it's such an odd "kooky" thing to do. I'm not sure what pleasure there is to be had by holding a string out the window.
Each scene follows this pattern. Characters do something intentionally strange so we will laugh at it, but it doesn't seem to serve any purpose, not for them anyway, and they gain nothing by doing these things. Napoleon has a Hispanic friend named Pedro (since he is the only non-white person in the school, the principal makes several points of pointing out his ethnicity and being condescending as if he doesn't understand American culture, but often the director plays Pedro's "Hispanicness" for laughs as well, as if his thick accent and often his culture, in and of itself, was hilarious) who in one scene starts complaining about how hot it is and goes home to get better. We then get Pedro's explanation the next day, that he tried soaking in the bath and various other ways to cool off, and nothing worked. He realized that it was his hair that was making him so hot. So he shaved it all off. But we never see his bald head since he hides it in a hooded sweatshirt. The solution is of course to get him a wig, which goes without saying is a ridiculous looking 70's newsman hairpiece that would seem just right in Anchorman. And Pedro wears this wig for the remainder of the film, which I guess is supposed to be funny. But all I wondered was, did we really just go through all of that just for a running wig joke? Because obviously a thick wig would be much hotter than natural hair, so it couldn't have really been to solve the heat problem.
Ebert pointed out in his review about how it reminded him of Welcome to the Dollhouse, and the intention is quite obvious. It is Solondz's film without wit or insight or compassion or any thought about providing interesting characters. The movie is really presented like Tod Browning's Freaks, with the characters showing off their various deficiencies one at a time, except, we aren't shown how they cope with their problems (or use it to their advantage), and we just see what a nerd Napoleon is over and over. He's unpleasant, witless, talentless, charmless, desperate, but he's apparently our hero because of screenwriter contrivances. One character gets angry at him because they are embarrassed by something Napoleon's uncle did to them, and then forgives him because of an extended silly dance Napoleon does in front of the school, not because he apologized or even had a conversation with them clarifying why they are upset at him. So it is quite apparent that the movie isn't supposed to be realistic (why would someone running for class president be forced to perform a sketch after their speech as part of the proceedings?), but it doesn't really qualify as satire since the target seems to be who we are rooting for. The music, an intentionally tacky Casio-style score, only plays up this mocking further. Imagine American Movie, but without the lead's enthusiasm and just a concentration on how pathetic he is, and apparently how funny these people are for being poor and out of the pop culture loop.
The audience around me kept looking around to see if it was ok to laugh, which, after the first ten minutes, they decided it was. I sat stone faced the entire time, wondering what the charm is in watching a spaz be a spaz for a whole movie. I asked a couple, after the film, who I had heard yucking it up the entire time behind me, what they liked about it. I pointed out that the story makes no sense, and neither does anything that the characters do. They both said they didn't care about the story, but they loved Napoleon, because they knew people just like that. Which I don't believe at all.
A perfect explanation may be something a friend of mine said after seeing The Royal Tenenbaums and loathing it (something that happened to me the second time I saw it, and found it incredibly dull, especially the way each character needed to have their introduction accompanied by the kooky book they had each written), compared to Rushmore, which he loved. He said: "Rushmore is great because it is organically weird. The Royal Tenenbaums is a chore to sit through because it is trying to be weird." Napoleon Dynamite makes a non-stop effort of trying to be weird.
I just noticed that the movie is apparently an expansion of a 10 minute short that the director made with the same actor in the lead and same story. It certainly should have stayed that brief, as Napoleon Dynamite is quite padded with awkward pauses and characters standing around trying to spontaneously create humor via inactivity. And it's still only 82 minutes. Though they have added a very odd and non-sensical wedding sequence, after the credits, that like the rest of the movie, seems disconnected from anything that occurred before it.
Well, I think a lot of people like if for the same reasons you hate it. I enjoyed how it seemed to exist in it's own world and I laughed at most of the things you seemed to be rolling your eyes at. It's far from a perfect movie but I'll take it over your typical mainstream comedy any day. As for story; yeah you're right, but I'll take laughs over the typical predictable plot that preside in most comedies. All I can say is I laughed. Why? Because I found it funny. Definitely not for everybody, or most people for that matter.
And I'll start trusting Roger Ebert on comedies as soon as he stops giving J-Lo movies an extra star just because he's got a thing for her.
I'll just add that I thought it was really funny. In fact, I think it's the funniest movie I've seen in a while.