Starring: Jon Heder,
Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell
Directed by: Jared Hess
Written by: Jared Hess
and Jerusha Hess
Length: 82 minutes
Rated: PG for thematic
elements and language
Jon Gries, Jon Heder, and Aaron Ruell
An alienated teen deals with the horrors of high school and his strange
The opening scene of this movie sets the tone: Jon Heder as geeky,
outcast Napoleon Dynamite waiting for the bus standing in front of
his house slouching and vacantly staring straight ahead with his mouth
hanging slightly open and his eye mostly closed; the bus pulls up
and Napoleon gets on a bus full of kids half his size, as he sits
down one of them asks him, “What are you going to do today Napoleon?”
and he replies in a voice of childish resentment “Whatever I
want. God!” And he then proceeds to tie a piece of string to
an action figure and dangle it out the window of the bus to drag in
the road. From that moment on, I knew this movie would be genius.
Napoleon is a high school student in a small town in Idaho where
he frequently gets beat up and made fun of by the stronger and more
popular kids. He befriends a new student recently arrived from Mexico
and together they maneuver such high school atrocities as a school
dance, student body elections, and dating.
Bizarre? Yes. But also utterly brilliant. This movie is for anyone
who was misunderstood, outcast, beat up, or labeled ‘geek’
in high school. It is admittedly different from the general run-of-the-mill
comedy one sees these days, and for that I am profoundly happy.
It is so refreshing to see an original and genuinely humorous movie
in the theaters. The characters are perfectly portrayed by actors
who have mercifully been able to avoid the usual Hollywood trash
of recent years. The cinematography, set design, props, and costumes
all combine to make the view feel like he really is experiencing
this hellish high school that seems stuck in the 1980s.
In short: bless the independent film market and go see this movie.