Napoleon Dynamite Defused?

I’ve had several people tell me that Napoleon Dynamite was one of the funniest movies they’ve ever seen and that it was made by some BYU grads. I was just about to take my family to it, when I checked online for information. The previews offered at immediately raised a red flag. That’s humor? Am I missing something? Then I found Roger Ebert’s review. I love goofy humor, but after seeing the previews and reading the review, all of us were glad to stay home. Let me know if I’m wrong.

Ebert had an interesting line at the end of his review:

I’m told the movie was greeted at Sundance with lots of laughter, but then Sundance audiences are concerned with being cool, and to sit through this film in depressed silence would not be cool, however urgently it might be appropriate.

Have I deprived my family of a valuable cultural experience and a journey into sublime humor?


Author: Jeff Lindsay

11 thoughts on “Napoleon Dynamite Defused?

  1. I saw Napolean Dynamite with my girlfriend here in Dallas at a premier a few months ago. We both got a lot of chuckles out of it.
    I don’t know if you have deprived your family of a night of yucks or not.It’s a matter of individual preference. Some of us split our sides laughing while watching Monte Python and others yawn.

    I would recommend ND to my sister (we both have similar senses of humor) but I don’t know if you’d enjoy it ,Jeff. You’d have to experience it for yourself.
    Anything Ebert recommends I make it a point to miss and anything he turns knuckles down I make a point of seeing. I give ND a thumbs up.

  2. I guess it just depends on if you like that kind of humor.

    Napoleon Dynamite received a 69% rating at critic-corral RottenTomatoes. I’m not sure if you’re aware of that resource or how it works, so I’ll elaborate. When a critic finishes their article, they mosey over to RottenTomatoes and post a snippet from their review, mark their overall opinion of the movie or game (“Fresh” or “Rotten”), and include a link to an online rendition of their piece. Those submissions are then mirrored for the public. The percentages tallied reflect overall positive reviews. Films usually wind up with over 150 articles factoring into those numbers, so most of the time it’s a pretty well-balanced benchmark. If the Tomatometer is above 60%, the movie’s considered Fresh; less than that and it’s Rotten. 69% is a fairly respectable mark.

    I haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite yet either, so I can’t really give my opinion other than to say that the trailer was pretty funny.

  3. Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

    I saw ND a few weeks back in a small theater that shows indie films and I thought it was hilarious. There were some boring parts and the plot was minimal, but I laughed and that’s what I went for. I think people who have grown up in the UT/ID/WY area can especially appreciate the humor.

    However, if you watched the preview and thought that it was distinctly unfunny, then you probably wouldn’t laugh very often at the whole movie.

    Though, on the other hand, how many PG movies are out there in the first place? 🙂

  4. We saw it last Friday and loved it. I didn’t find anything offensive in it and there was even a positive message. (Napoleon does quite a magnanimous gesture for his friend, Pedro.)

    Some YM from our ward saw it not once but twice last Saturday after our “pioneer breakfast”. If their reaction as well as the sold out crowd at our showing is any indication, it’s quite the hit with the youth. It was pretty well received with my viewing partners, too (3 30somethings and 1 fiftysomething).

    If you didn’t find the previews humerous though, I don’t know if you’d like it or not.

  5. I’m guessing that it was such a hit at Sundance because it’s a refreshing burst of sunshine compared to the content and subject matter of many of the films shown there (obscure, artsy films with nary a heterosexual character or a nuclear family to be seen).

    But if you’re used to summer blockbusters, I imagine you’ll be disappointed by ND for its pace and feel of an independent film.

    I was a bit disappointed coming out of the theatre, but after thinking about it a bit and comparing it to other indies that I’ve seen, it stands out in my mind as the best I’ve experienced of the genre. And I respectfully disagree with Ebert’s assessment.

  6. just saw it. we rented it at BB. didn’t even know it was an lds movie. looked it up online and found your blog. the opening credits are the most original i have ever seen. the movie took an age old idea and showed it in a ubique way that was incredibly refreshing. most of all it is hilarous. we replayed napoleon’s dance sequence and our entire family stood up and laughed and danced. best we have seen in ages!

  7. I think Roger Ebert grabbed the wrong end of the stick. As I saw it, the nerds and social misfits at the center of the story are the heroes, not the butt of jokes.

    At times it was painful for me to watch because I was such a social misfit.

    It really hit home when I realized that the style of glasses I currently wear is the same as Napoleon’s.

    Jeff, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, buy the DVD.

  8. Why do people like Napoleon Dynamite so much? Such a dumb movie! Is it suppose to take place in the 80’s, or is Idaho just so behind in everything? Avoid wasting your money in low quality comedy, and use it towards a more worthwhile cause… BTW, I live in Idaho, and it seems to be stuck in the 80s sometimes.

  9. I tried to see Napoleon Dynamite but I could not sit through the entire movie. Made it to half-way, tops. Why? It has nothing to do with me being offended by anything or whatever but just because I found it extremely boring and the type of humor employed in this film just makes me cringe. It’s actually pretty easy to make me laugh but this film still failed to deliver.

  10. The movie cost 400k and sold 44m, I like it and have watched it many times. Some of us can identify with some of the characters.

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