MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are the proud hosts of Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society. Each month, on the second Friday, they host a bloghop devoted to a particular movie. They invite others to watch the same film and post their own reviews.
Your old pal, Cherdo, is co-hosting with MOCK! and The Armchair Squid to discuss NAPOLEON DYNAMITE!
"A high school misfit found a sweet spot, tapping into our inner dork."
If ever there was a movie that deserved a cult following, Napoleon Dynamite is it, though it defies any explanation of plot. All of Napoleon's daily situations are strung together and it just pulls you along. The lack of plot is probably the genius of this Indie film that garnered a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (2004) and as a winner for the Film Discovery Jury Award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (2004). MTV and Teen Choice Awards followed. Directed by Jared Hess, the script was co-written by Jared and wife Jerusha Hess.
The popularity of this film has to be due, in part, to the fact that it is a highly quotable movie. Many of the awkward, deadpan and absurd lines stick with you long after you hear them, so I've included some of my favorites (in red).
From the beginning, you are transported to the day to day, lackluster life of Napoleon (Jon Heder). This moonboot wearing outcast pretty much resides in his own dream world, with irritating llama feeding chores and his Trapper Keeper portfolio of weird mutated animal drawings. As a fugitive from normal, he endures the wrath of a few students but it doesn't seem to deter him.
Napoleon lives with his grandma (Sandy Martin), but when a nasty dune buggy accident breaks her coccyx, creepy Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) shows up to watch over things. Rico laments his past glory (ahem...) as a high school athlete, though his recall is questionable. Throughout the movie, he's a thorn in Napoleon's side, but a frequent partner to Napoleon's brother, Kip, as he explores money-making schemes.
Kip: “Napoleon, don’t be jealous ’cause I’ve been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I’m training to become a cage fighter.”
Kip (Aaron Ruell) spends most of his days proving his babe-worthiness as he chats himself into a relationship with the nearly amazonian LaFawduh (Shondrella Avery). Their nerd versus dork rivalry between Kip and Napoleon is comical; both think they are at the top of their game...it's just so hard to figure out what that is.
LaFawnduh arrives to turn Kip into the hip-hop, cage fighting guy he always meant to get around to being. These two are the most awkward looking couple ever, as shortie Kip stares into LaFawnduh's sternum. In spite of that, they are destined for the altar by the end of the film.
Deb: What are you drawing?
Napoleon: A liger.
Deb: What's a liger?
Napoleon: It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed…bred for its skills in magic.
Door to door bracelet baroness and glamour shots virtuoso, Deb (Tina Majorino), meets Napoleon while selling her braided bracelets. With her wanton side-ponytail and fashion sense, she had to be part of his crew.
Pedro: It's a Sledgehammer.
Napoleon: Dang! You got shocks, pegs - lucky! You ever take it off any sweet jumps?
Fresh from Mexico, new student Pedro (Efren Ramirez) hits it off with Napoleon. He rounds out Napoleon's personal "in-crowd" of friends for the film.
Napoleon gives Pedro wig advice: "That one looks like a medieval warrior."
When Pedro decides to run for student government President, he enlists the help of Napoleon and Deb. Summer Wheatley (Halley Duff) is the popular blond indigenous to all high schools - she is running for President, too. The race for voters is on. Napoleon approaches students with the line, "Pedro offers you his protection" while the presence of Pedro's cousins seems to make good on the promise. When Pedro gives himself an unfortunate haircut ("My head was hot"), Deb comes to the rescue with a grandma-worthy wig.
Napoleon: "I caught you a delicious bass."
Napoleon: "It took me, like, 3 hours to finish the shading on your upper lip. It's probably the best drawing I've ever done."
Meanwhile, there's a dance coming up - Pedro asks Deb to be his date while Napoleon aims for someone out of his league, endlessly reluctant classmate Trisha. Uncle Rico inadvertantly helps Napoleon along by describing him as a mentally challenged sad sack. Her mother forces her to go to the dance with Napoleon, though she ditches him once they arrive.
Once of my favorite scenes occurs when Napoleon arrives to pick up Trisha. Lacking a ride, he is picked up by Pedro's cousins in their lowrider. Napoleon asks for Trisha as it hops up and down in the background and her father asks, "what is that in my driveway?"
Pedro and Summer must give a speech to the student body in their race for the Presidency. In his halting voice, he promises "If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true." Actual presidential candidates promise the same thing, but for some reason, it's funny when Pedro says it. Pedro doesn't realize he needed to do a skit, so Napoleon saves the day with his mad dance skills.
The very final scene is the marriage of LaFawnduh and Kip, as Kip sings of his love of her - and technology. As the camera pans to the attendees, I love the look on LaFawnduh's relatives and the emotional Uncle Rico. Napoleon rides up on a "wild honeymoon stallion" and tells the couple that he hopes their experiences are unforgettable.
For all its quirkiness and smirk potential, I've always loved this movie. In a weird way, it's unforgettable.