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August 17, 2004

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I agree it's overrated but damn ... did someone tell you that you need to start being meaner in your reviews? ;)

Far and away the bests parts of N.D. were ways I related it to external things:
* his body language, sans dance moves, bear an uncanny resemblance to my friend/frequent blog commenter O'dell
* Pedro's toupee reminds me of the Jerky Boys skit: "Pico's Mexican Hairpiece"

In any case, we knew much more interesting geeks from college. If they can do Aliens vs. Predator, why not Tran vs. Bress?

Am I getting meaner? Maybe it's the fact that I've been sick for weeks, though I really think it's just that a bunch of recent movies (Napoleon Dynamite, Little Black Book, The Brown Bunny, The Village) have not only disappointed me, but made me a little angry. But hey, I really liked The Manchurian Candidate! That's gotta count for something! And I'm looking forward to the sure-to-be-fun-in-a-stupid-way AVP.

As for Napoleon Dynamite, I think the movie is ONLY about making fun of kids that are awkward, weird, or just different. While I won't deny that Napoleon himself is so bizarre that he's sometimes amusing, but the filmmakers just wanted to, as my middle school health teacher once put it, "blow out his candle just to make theirs burn more brightly." The whole thing felt really mean-spirited.

Still, I agree that a Tran vs. Bress film would be the ultimate cinematic experience. I'd pony up a half million to help get that baby funded.

What the fuck was that? napoleon was possibly the best movie of all time.
I did not find one moment of it that was boring, bad, or unamusing
As for the comment that it is just making fun of the nerds in highschool, I disagree with that.
I no many nerds who were definitly not offended, and I think that if you, as a nerd, were, you should get your head out of your ass, take a look at the real world,and recognize this movie for the amazing satire that it was.

Unfortunately, I'm not a nerd - I've asked a few people, and they confirmed it - nor is my head inside my ass. I'm not really sure how that last thing would even be possible.

Nonetheless, I appreciate the levelheaded critique of my review. Especially considering that, as someone who can't spell "high school" correctly, you are clearly not one of the nerds I supposedly offended.

Hey this movie clearly isn't about making fun of the nerds or socially unaccepted people out there....it's just clearly showing how this "nerd" deals with his reality of being a nerd by not even noticing it. It's about he goes through his life with the cards hes dealt and just enjoying it his way. its not meant to show people to make fun of nerds at all. in fact, i see people quoting Dynamite all the time with "Gosh!" and "Idiot!" "sweet!" people love Dynamite, everyone at school talks about it.

I just wanted to thank you for this review. I came across your site merely by chance. So far, you are the only critic I have read who has been spot on about this movie. I watched this with a group of friends (who have been out of high school for several years now) and much to my suprise, they laughed the hardest at scenes such as the one where Napoleon is slammed against a locker, or when he is humiliated in front of large groups of people. The popularity of this movie just goes to show that in these post-Columbine days we have learned nothing. It's a sad movie, really. In the real world, Napoleon would be a severely depressed individual plotting his revenge against his classmates.

So, if I understand correctly, you're big gripe about Napoleon Dynamite "is ONLY about making fun of kids that are awkward, weird, or just different"...But as you stated so eloquently, they're really a bunch of "stupid, disgusting, socially retarded, repulsive, spastic" and uh, oh yes, "endearingly pathetic"
...they deserve the ridicule. Its the American Way! *s*

Six -

My point is that making a film about disgusting, retarded, stupid, spastic characters just so you can make fun of them isn't something that should be celebrated. I can recognize Napoleon and company's repugnance without agreeing with the film's mocking tone (or its creation of such misfits just for bullying sport)...

Shocking as it may seem, N.D. and company are probably suffering from Asperger's Syndrome (autism to the layman), which essentially places them in the same category as say, a 99-year-old with Alztheimers...But, in this great nation of ours, that's mere psycho-babble...You know, that gives me an idea. A lampoon of socially-challenged elderly adults with senile dementia. Tagline: JUST PRAY YOU DIE YOUNG! *s*

You might want to fix your server *s*

Paul Celentano...incredible reference.

The ultimate candle blower.

I'm sorry about joining the thread 2 years late, but I only just watched the movie. Having a son with Asperger Syndrome, I have a slightly different perspective. The character of ND, was not, I believe created as repugnant character to be made fun of in the movie. He was portrayed quite accurately, even down to some of the mannerisms, facial expression, hair - I saw my own son over and over. That some find a person/character such as ND repugnant says something about the viewer, not the creator of the character. My response to the movie was not anger that laughs where created at ND's expense - I didn't laugh, but pride that ND and my son keep going back for more. While my son has not been subjected to the locker slams, he has been faced with physical threats yet went back to school the next day with his usual good attitude.

If one views the locker slams as sick jokes, I suspect it is because we thought they were funny back then and think that we have or should have grown up by now and therefor self-righteously point out the error of the movie's ways. These people, both the bullies and the ND's are still out there for real. Portraying their trials and this small yet huge triumph was to me not cruel, but quite kind. The nerds just want to live their dreams as well.

KevinLF, you're right. This film continues to succeed, even three or four years later, precisely because it portrays with such startling accuracy a set of 10-20 character quirks that we have all seen -- but rarely all together in the same person -- in certain friends, acquaintances, and even, some of us, in our children... in people often labeled as "geeks." Napoleon Dynamite has something much more serious going on than mere geekdom, however, as you Kevin, pointed out, but the filmmakers NEVER intended anything but sympathy for him, and this is exactly what they achieved (witness, the ND paraphernalia that was so popular for so long). Those who laugh loudest when ND is slammed into lockers will certainly never see any value in this movie, because for them, there won't be any. They just don't "get" this movie. They might as well go drink beer till they puke with Summer's boyfriend... and look at each other stupidly, wondering how she lost the election to Pedro...

The original reviewer just don't get it. For goodness' sake, ND 'wins' in the end! Later comments from KevinF and TomC are spot on. I started off not seeing where it was going, but I rapidly spotted the connection to Aspergers, thanks to recent mention in discussion with friends. Even the use of Penguin Cafe Orchestra track could have been a reference to a little known Aussie film Malcolm, about a similar young man, reinforcing the positive intentions. The eventual sight of truly happy emotions on the leading cast's faces as the film comes to multiple finales is thoroughly heart-warming.

As we learn more about what higher-functioning autistic kids "look like" later on in life (in high school, college), it gets easier to spot the real-life analogues to ND. In most cases, they've made considerable progress socially since early childhood. But they still stick to varying degrees (quite a bit in the case of ND & company).

I'm one of those kids--not quite as awkard as ND--now grown up. I loved the film; it was absolutely hilarious. I laughed at ND's antics and those of the surrounding cast. But often I could simply relate ... not knowing it's important to look people in the face... or assuming it's okay to just walk away from a conversation without a "see you later"

Happily, we're getting better at identifying these kids while they're still in school. And we can do something about the lacking social skills! There are lots of great relationship training resources that can help.

This is an endearing, "behind the scenes" look at a high functioning autistic/ asperger's kid. There's no better way to understand autism than to observe how it plays out in someone's personal life. Perhaps those who have seen and loved the film can spot these challenges faster as a result.

I found the movie so touching. I have watched it several times and love it. Those Mormons who made the film really knew what they were doing. It's authentic right down to the Idaho mormon setting, clothing, cheerleaders, characters etc of that particular culture (where I grew up) and also autism. or Asbergers etc. If one hates the film could it be the person just doesn't understand autism=like characteristics or the culture presented??We are rooting for Napoleon and he wins out. Big time. Are there any more Napoleon Dynamite type films out there or is it one of a kind? In a world of comedy where humour depends on foul language, crudeness vulgarity etc. this movie is so great. No wonder it is a cult film...The pacing, the acting. Those who think it is cruelly making fun of nerds are missing the whole idea of what it means to be a nerd in h.s. society. Maybe they themselves have no nerd like qualities and cannot relate. Whatever.

Let's not pretend an understanding of Aspergers would make Napoleon Dynamite watchable. Take me for example; I have Aspergers Syndrome, and Napoleon Dynamite fucking sucks.

"Nonetheless, I appreciate the levelheaded critique of my review. Especially considering that, as someone who can't spell "high school" correctly, you are clearly not one of the nerds I supposedly offended."

Only nerds go after typos. I think it is now confirmed.

Interesting comments here.

My son has Asperger's and is such a sweet, caring, lovable kid and sometimes too honest. Nerdy, unfortunately yes.

When I saw ND, saw an extreme example of a person who has Asperger's. Fortunately, my son isn't like that. But I am looking into alternatives for him for high school.

But to comment in general, it really sadden me that there are so many people out there who really don't give a sh*t that these people have feelings. You don't have to be friends with them, but my God, just leave them a lone and be nice.

Sadly, it's our human nature to pick on those who are weak. I really wish those people who do find joy in making fun of others would have more compassion for those who are "slightly" different than what we claim as normal.

We are all not the same. And if you think about it, a lot of the "geek's, nerds, aspies" pay a high contribution to society. Majority of them developed the technology that we have come to be so dependent on. So thank them for being different.

Realize that we are all different and if you have a tendency to make fun of someone who is entirely different from what the world calls "normal", then you need to look deep inside and realize you are being judged and made fun of yourself!!!

I just watched the film on dvd and was left speechless. The dvd sleve promised that the film will make me laught till it hurt and a hilarious time but all i got was an urge to cringe and feel embarassed. Only the tupperware and the wedding scenes were remotely funny. All I could do was feel sorry for N.D.
Sadly it is so typical of our times that when it is frowned upon to make fun of other races, genders and the physically impared the target becomes the mentally or psychologically challenged. Although noone in the film mentions mental illness it is definately the focal point of the film. And while this alone would not be a problem but the fact that ND was not designed to be likable or endearing in the least is. Short of his dancing we did not get a glimpse into any of his positive attributes nor was he given any depth.

I would strongly disagree that the popularity of ND merchandise indicates that people like the character.

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