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Napoleon Dynamite

Back in the 1980’s, movies weren’t kind to geeks. The ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ films mocked the differences of nerd-dom even if the so called nerds usually won the day. Since then the term ‘nerd’ has morphed into ‘geek’ with the computer age transforming these individuals into heroes. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ further enhanced their reputation in 2004 in a comedy about being a proud geek. Under Jared Hess’ steady direction, this quirky film reveals how the once ridiculed geeks of yesteryear have now had the last laugh.

Preston, Idaho is a sleepy town filled with peculiar characters. Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) is one of its strangest. A socially awkward teenager living with his elderly Grandmother and brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), he lives his life in defiance of dull normality. When asked to help his best friend Pedro (Efrin Ramirez) claim the school’s Student Body Presidency, Napoleon accepts the challenge in shaking the cobwebs of his town’s unending drudgery.

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is a consistently amusing satire on being bored. Populated by boring people who think their lives are fascinating, viewers may be able to recall others like this. Napoleon’s blank stare of terminal boredom is a mirror of his town’s ethos. It’s this very idea which makes ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ hilarious. The script feels more like a series of moments rather than having a cohesive plot. This further reflects how its character’s quickly change their minds in an effort to stave off boredom.

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ influenced a range of films in its wake such as ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. It sent up the narrow minded suburban mentality permeating culture which has accelerated since. Heder and his co-stars perfectly express this type of thinking with their characters feeling all too real. The Hammond-organ style music score adds to the off-kilter atmosphere with the cinematography capturing a unique look in Napoleon’s weird universe.

It may not be to everyone’s taste but ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is a very solid satire on uninteresting monotony. Quite savage in places as a good satire should be, it has heart within its waspish frame. ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is a nice ode to geeks refusing to give up and also a timely reminder to keep active in order to stave off boredom’s wicked spectre.

Rating out of 10: 8

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