This review will consist of me asking myself 10 questions and answering them to the best of my ability.
1. What is this film about?
Napoleon Dynamite is an awkwardly entertaining film that follows a few days in the awkward life of a very awkward teenage boy in a time I haven’t quite been able to determine. I guess I missed something here. In any case, Napoleon is a dreamer fully aware that he’s not one of the popular kids, but he seems to okay with that. As odd as he is, like all teenagers, he’s normal enough to be embarrassed by his strange family. While Napoleon seems content to be who he is, he’s also happy to accept the prospects of friendship when Pedro moves into town and Deb drops her gear on his doorstep. Between first meetings and the big school election at the end, Napoleon learns a lot about friendship and has a moment in the spotlight as a hero instead of an underdog.
2. What did I think of the title, poster, and or trailer?
When I first hear of this film I was excited to see it only because I was expecting it to be absolutely crazy. I was not disappointed, but it still wasn’t what I had expected. It’s quite wholesome and sweet. It still blows my mind that there is no foul language in this movie at all. Even Goonies, a 1985 release, has a handful of curse words in it; all the major characters are middle school or junior high aged kids, not high schoolers like this film.
Once I started to watch the movie, I was afraid I’d made a big mistake. The opening scene still perplexes me to this day. While “What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?…Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!” are great lines, I still don’t understand why he wanted to drag that poor action figure behind the bus.
Also, when I first heard of this film, I was expecting the title to be a nickname or code word. I was amused to learn that is the character’s actual name. Too bad though that there’s forever a controversy over where the name came from, but I’m not talking about that today.
3. What did I think of the main character(s) and how the actors performed them?
This movie starred Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite, Aaron Ruell as Kip, Efren Ramirez as Pedro, and Tina Majorino as Deb. There are many more characters I could list, but these are the ones I liked the most. I was excited to see Tina in this teenage role having been a fan of her childhood work. People can say what they want, but I still think the best film version of Alice in Wonderland is the one she’s in from 1999; no disrespect to Disney or Jonny Depp.
As far as I know Heder was a newcomer in this role. Not sure how true this is, but I member people saying that he was paid like a $1000 up front and part of the profits, if there were any. True or false, lucky for him, this movie did make money and built up a cult following.
I’ve seen Efren in a few other things since the movie, but I haven’t really liked any of it; I do, however, think that he’s very talented. He’s played some very strange role quite convincingly.
Don’t know much about Aaron Ruell other than he looks nothing like the Kip character he plays. I think it must be a sign of good acting since he’s not wearing any lavish special effects make-up or prosthetics. He’s just playing his part well.
4. What did I think of the direction and cinematography?
I don’t know much about director Jared Hess other than he also did Nacho Libre, a film I’ve grown to appreciate thanks to my husband’s repeated showing of it in our living room and random quotes belted out throughout our daily routine.
Hess seems to have a very laid back approach to filmmaking. He doesn’t focus or zoom in a lot. He lets you, the viewer, take in the whole picture and focus on what you choose. Aside from occasional crowd scenes that prove necessary at some point, most of Hess’s scenes are intimate, with few characters in each shot. It seems like, in most movies, even when you are focusing on two characters, those two characters are sounded by other people in the background via: coffee shop, dinner, drug store, busy street, etc… Hess isolates his characters so you can look around them and see what there is to see and then focus in when you’re ready.
Whoa, I think I just got a little too deep there.
5. What did I think of the soundtrack and score?
I was excited about this soundtrack so I did just a little bit of research. This movie’s soundtrack included a score, but not all the songs that appeared in the movie, which is understandable, but… The opening song? Yeah, the opening song and the montage music isn’t part of this soundtrack, but I’ll come back to this in a minute.
The score was written and or performed by John Swihart, I think. I’m going to assume that many of quirky organ pieces and the some of the poppy instrumentals I heard came from this guy. I like it. It gave the movie a very light feel, which was needed, since some of the movie was uncomfortable to watch, but not in a bad way. You’re just constantly wandering and wondering with this film.
Back to that opening song, “We’re Going to Be Friends” by The White Stripes- why is this not part of this soundtrack? I mean, this movie is about friendship. That was the perfect intro song. I can’t talk about this anymore. Visit Wikipedia to see what other songs didn’t make it.
6. What did I like about the story as a whole?
It took a while, but after making it through the first screening, I loved this movie and appreciate the creativity that went into writing this story.
I do wish that someone would clarify for me, what year exactly this is supposed to take place. What year has walkmans, VHS, and Backstreet boys? Seriously, why don’t I know this?…
I really should do more research on these movies.
7. What did I not like about the story?
The whole chicken coop and egg lunch scene could have been omitted for my taste. It was just gross to me, but maybe I’m weird like that.
Also, not to rock the boat, break the peace, or start trouble, but why does it seem like Deb likes Napoleon more along when Pedro is a perfectly good guy?
8. Would I recommend this movie to others?
Yes. I get that this will not be for all those strictly mainstream Hollywood Blockbuster lovers, but I feel like most people would like if they gave it a chance and it’s totally family friendly.
9. If yes, who? What would I rate this movie?
I’d recommend this anyone. On a scale of 1 to 5 movie reels, I give this film 5 reels.
10. Was there anything in this movie that could be related to me or anything I have written?
We’ll I’ve not written anything this quirky, but there’s always hope for the future.
Unfortunately, everyone seems to know someone like Uncle Rico and out of respect I won’t mention the person I’m thinking of. It’s tough to live your life feeling and or knowing that you hit your peak in high school, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something special for you in the future.
While I’m not going to be trying to time travel anytime soon, it did write about time travel in my short story “Clepher’s Heart”, which is featured in the Of Past and Future anthology.
Watch, rent, or buy this movie here.
Mock Squid Soup – Film Society
MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to introduce Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society. Each month, on the second Friday, we shall host a bloghop devoted to a particular movie. We invite others to watch the same film and post their own reviews…Don’t be shy; come join the fun! 😀
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords