Napoleon Dynamite is a new kind of hero, complete with a tight red 'fro, sweet moon boots, and skills that cant be topped. Napoleon spends his days drawing mythical beasts, duking it out with his brother, Kip, and avoiding his scheming Uncle Rico. When two new friends enter Napoleon's life - shy Deb and mustachioed Pedro - the trio launches a campaign to elect Pedro for class president and make the student bodys wildest dreams come true. But if Pedro is to beat stuck-up Summer, Napoleon will have to unleash his secret weapon...
As deadpan comedies go, Napoleon Dynamite
stands in a class all its own. Played by John Heder, the title character is (in the words of critic Roger Ebert) "the kind of nerd other nerds avoid," a mouth-breathing dweeb with a mangy nest of orange hair, and ungainly features that suggest a perpetual state of half-conscious depression. He lives in Preston, Idaho (former home of 24-year-old director Jared Hess) with his thrill-seeking grandma and 32-year-old brother, and his days at high school consist mostly of being abused or ignored by indifferent classmates. Napoleon's sad-sack story doesn't offer the scathing, impassioned humor of Welcome to the Dollhouse
because Hess (who cowrote the nearly plotless screenplay with his wife, Jerusha) doesn't have an angst-ridden axe to grind. Instead, the comedy (which exists in a tacky universe of worn-out rural suburbia) is so low-key that some will find it difficult to laugh, while others (i.e., those who feel superior to Napoleon) will have plenty of fun at Napoleon's expense. The result is a curiously uneven film, hilarious at times, but hampered by its own sense of affectionate mockery. An audience favorite at the Sundance film festival, Napoleon Dynamite
may not be entirely lovable, but it's definitely unique. --Jeff Shannon