Friday, February 13, 2015

Mock Squid Soup: Napoleon Dynamite






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."
Entertainment Weekly




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.

Napoleon: What kind of bike do you have?

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.

Join us!

35 comments:

  1. I've never seen it, but I just ordered it on Netflix!!

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    1. Knowing your sense of humor, I think you'd love it, Fran!

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  2. And here I was hoping to learn how to mock a squid! Guess I better just watch the movie instead.

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    1. As the Squid is my dear pal, and MOCK! is not a verb, it would be challenging.

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  3. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    When you guys first mentioned this movie a few weeks ago, I watched the trailer but unfortunately have not yet had the opportunity to watch the movie. I know in advance that I will love it because I prefer small indies to big budget Hollywood blockbusters. I get tired of seeing the same predictable handful of Hollywood stars in one movie after another. I prefer movies that cast fresh newcomers portraying quirky characters and delivering lots of memorable quotes. I wonder what would have happened if the Downton Dowager had been added to the mix and peppered the dialogue with her classic zingers. :)

    Thank you for reminding me about Napoleon Dynamite. It's must see.

    Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friend Cherdo!

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    1. I love movies in general, but the Indie flicks are usually the most satisfying are those. The big budget pics you refer to are canned a lot of time...or political...or just poorly written. And there's a lot of my least favorite concept: develop you character with horrible language.

      (There's a little bit of hyperbole there; I admit there are good films with big budgets but there are so many that are garbage.)

      You would love the deadpan crazy delivery and the way all the characters take each other so seriously. We quote this constantly.

      Once again, thanks for stopping by, SDK! Go forth and conqueror the weekend.

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  4. Thank you for co-hosting, Cherdo. Your movie is a fine choice.

    You give a most loving review, too. I agree with all of your praise, though I don't know if I could ever go so far as to say I love the movie. It is deliciously different and that's worth plenty in our age of constant and instantaneous media regurgitation.

    I think LaFawnduh is my favorite. One expects her to be either comically ugly or completely disenchanted with Kip upon meeting him. She is neither, not even for an instant. I like Pedro's cousins, too. I don't think they ever say a word! They just glower menacingly.

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    1. I can't turn my back on Napoleon (ha ha ha). Kip and LaFawnduh crack me up; especially her "come hither" glances when she is with Kip.

      If you really want an oh-my-gosh moment. Google the actors. I can't believe that Aaron Ruell is the same guy. How could he look totally normal day to day and still pull of a character like Kip?

      Thank you for asking me to co-host; I'm a huge fan of all things connected to squids and armchairs now. :-)

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    2. I Googled and I'm glad I did. I did not realize until just now that Jon Gries was Lazlo in Real Genius!

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  5. I loved that movie, too. Yime to see it again!

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    1. Any day that ends in a Y is a good Napoleon Dynamite day...

      Thanks for stopping by, you evil pop tart... Love the name. Believe it or not, I make jewelry that looks like pop tarts.

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  6. It sure was a weird one that sticks with you

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    1. Given the choice, I'd body paint myself with weird. I see a smudge on you, too, Pat. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

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  7. This was on such a small budget and I am not one to collect it but there are some truly golden moments right out of left field-great review

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    1. This entire movie was shot in left field, Birgit. I live in left field, ha ha.

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    2. I wanted to respond to Toi's review which was excellent but I don't know how.

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  8. When we went to Yugoslavia, one of the local favorites was "Octopus Soup." We opined that you had to "eat it before it ate you."
    Huh. Now that I wrote it, it doesn't seem so funny.
    I'll go with the squid soup.

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    1. "Now that I wrote it, it doesn't seem so funny."

      You crack me up, Al Penwasser...

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  9. I love this movie. It was a favorite of my stepdaughter so I saw it many times. The blend of weird, quirky, and lovable nerdiness is what wins me over. Amid all the goofball one-liners and gawkiness, it's basically a redemption film with a happy ending.

    "I don't even have any good skills. You know like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!"-Napoleon.

    Napoleon DOES develop some great skills -- Funky dancing AND how he treats people. It pays off in the end. :)

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    1. While I was researching this, I saw some funny interviews with Jon Heder and the clip from Napoleon Dynamite doing David Letterman's Top Ten countdown.

      Weird is the new black.

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  10. So many people loved this movie and found it hilarious but I have yet to see it. I'm usually picky about hat comedies I watch because to me I think there's a fine line between funny and just plain stupid. I'll have to see this one some time, though.

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    1. NP takes that line and uses it for a jump rope. But it grows on you...

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  11. I've never seen this, but it sounds like there are some good lines in it.

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    1. It's a continuous stream of nerd lines and awkward interactions.

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  12. Help me understand why I read and watched every bit of this post? I suspect I have issues - hidden even from me (smile). Cherdo!!!

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    1. Maybe you're an optimist who thought the post might redeem itself before the end...

      Thanks for MY laugh (I'm off to see if you're still following me...).

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  13. It's great when you find a film that's so much fun you remember lines from it! That's a rare thing. Thanks for the review! :)

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  14. I haven't seen it, but so many of my friends love it. I loved reading the lines and moments from the movie. Sounds memorable for sure. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Jess, it is an acquired taste for some, but a huge hit at our hous. Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. I adore this movie, but why don't I remember the wedding? Did it occur after the credits, and I turned it off too soon? Was I high? Was I on pain killers? I watched Big Love last year, at WDW's suggestion. I was thrilled when Tina Majorino showed up. At least I think that was her. I feel kind of confoosed. It's okay. Franklin is here to care for me. I don't know how many times I've watched Napoleon, but it's a lot.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie, Janie, Janie...you turned it off too soon. The wedding scene is almost a stand alone laugh. A teary Kip singing about love and technology cracks me up.

      Your confoostion is troubling, but I do have endless respect for Franklin's responsible nature. You're in good hands.

      Happy Valentine's Day!

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  16. I love this movie and my favourite scene is the dance scene. It won the award for best dance scene at that year's MTV Movie Awards :)

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    1. There's a YouTube video of Jon Heder speaking "somewhere" and a guy asked if he can come up and do the dance for him (dressed as Napoleon). It's an awkward tribute. How appropriate. Google it; you'll shake your head and laugh.

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  17. You are so talented. I always enjoy your reviews. I'm so glad you liked this movie. You are so right about the quotable lines. They really stick with you. Gosh!

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo