NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: THE BIG CON

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: THE BIG CON

I bought into it.

How could I have? Seriously, how?

I never buy into hype, I never listen to what critics say even though I am one, and I make sure never to listen to internet surfers who think they know what a good movie is. Mind you, I associate myself with people who love American Idol, think “Benchwarmers” was one of the funniest movies in the last three years, thought the “Dawn” remake was better than the original, and think “Laguna Beach” is genuine reality. Seriously, they think rich, white, blonde, blue eyed, teenage models living in condos and bickering are what reality is made of.

But you can imagine my crushing disappointment upon putting on “Napoleon Dynamite” and sitting there without a single grin. I didn’t laugh once, not a chuckle, not a teehee, not even a scoff. But what astonished me was that people loved it! They were crazy about it! They said it was the funniest comedy in years (wrong!), they said Napoleon was hilarious (wrong), and they even loved that stupid dance scene with him in the auditorium. I’ve never been so much in pain.

Why do people like crap? I’m just curious. Hell, even MTV hyped this film up and Jared Hess became a potential Hollywood cash cow for making a piece of crap. But I know a million directors famous for making pieces of crap, so that’s a bad example.

I recall arguing with someone about the movie, and the argument ended up being as dumb as the movie:

“You didn’t like Napoleon Dynamite?!”
“No. I hate it.”
“You didn’t think it was at least funny?”
“I thought it was crap.”
“What about when Napoleon throws the steak to his uncle’s face?”
“That was dumb.”
“Come on, it’s funny to watch people get hit in the face with things!”

This is the extent of the intelligence the argument reached towards, and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I left. I’d like to have an argument with someone intelligent about the film just to see if they prove a point, or lead me down this road once again. Tater tots in pants, learning how to dance, the repeated Liger jokes, and–worst of all–throwing an action figure outside his bus window with a string attached to it. This is supposed to be funny. This is what the fans are finding so hysterical.

I really continue to over estimate the intelligence of American movie-goers even when shit like “Date Movie” and “White Chicks” make considerably large profits. Maybe I’m just optimistic that they’re not as stupid as I perceive them, because I live here. It’s embarrassing. I live in a country filled with morons, it’s not exactly worth bragging about if I ever travel overseas.

But then these are people who enjoy watching an entire show about a bunch of guys stapling their nuts to their legs, and will fork over large amounts of money to watch a bunch of guys throwing up on each other on the big screen.

I recall that day, being excited and anxious to watch what I thought or was fooled into thinking would be the funniest movie in a while. And then ten minutes into it, Napoleon Dynamite mutters “I’ll do whatever I want, gawd!” And instantly I said aloud without a single spark of amusement, “Oh shit, what the fuck did I get myself into?”

I’m not a bully, and I would never pick on anyone, but I wanted to beat Dynamite down to the ground until he was a bloody stump. And I bet you’re saying “Dude, that’s like so totally the point!” What is? What’s the point of Napoleon Dynamite? He’s likable because he’s unlikable? He’s cool because you want to beat the shit out of him?

Hey, Tina Majorino is cute I love her work in “Veronica Mars”, and Haylie Duff is cute in a weird kind of way, but I’m shocked that such stupidity would be considered comedy gold. I’ve seen it twice, and I just can’t sit through it. And the sad fact is that John Heder seems to be building his career around this character, which won’t last long.

You can only go so far on one character’s success. Alfalfa knew it, The Beav knew it, and Vin Diesel knows it. So far, out of Heder’s roles he’s played a stoner in “Just Like Heaven” and a mental midget in “Benchwarmers” both of which were obviously modeled after Napoleon Dynamite. When I hear people talking about it with such passion and love I think to myself “Was I watching the same movie?” I mean, I didn’t purposely try to hate it, I was actually excited about it. So why do people love it and I despise it?

They’re stupid. That’s probably the only solution. But seriously, what is so apppealing about this crap? I can’t understand it. Is it the hair, the glasses, or the fact that no character is remotely funny, so that’s what makes them funny? How is it that Hess uses the same niche he used for this on “Nacho Libre” and that was hacked to shreds, while this remains untouched?

Might want to take a second look there, geniuses. Hess used the same brand of comedy. So either Dynamite sucks ass and Libre was too good to understand or both films suck, just in different wave lengths. I’ll go for the second choice. I enjoy films that boast characters who are proud to be nerdy and don’t take too much shame in it, and if “Napoleon Dynamite” were actually worth watching, I’d say it was a well done testament on that philosophy.

It’s funny because MTV says so, or its funny because its so unfunny you must not get the jokes, therefore it’s funny, or–I gather–there are others whom are only laughing at “Napoleon Dynamite” because they don’t want to look like they don’t get the joke, much like Joey in “Friends”. With these odd successful comedies people are often too afraid to say they don’t like it because then they’re told that they just don’t get it. Problem is that I understood what “Napoleon Dynamite” was striving for. It just wasn’t funny. It was stupid.

And I’ve never had an intelligent argument concerning this movie. It’s always “Wasn’t it funny when (insert scene here)?” almost as if people are hoping that if they keep repeating the scenes and describing them to me, eventually it will be like striking oil and a burst of laughter will come from me.

“You know, I didn’t think it was hilarious the first time, but now that you’ve described it to me ten times, I’m starting to see your point!”

Fat chance.




Posted on July 31, 2006 in Blogs by
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11 Comments on "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: THE BIG CON"

  1. Dark Alchemist on Mon, 31st Jul 2006 10:05 am 

    Quit bein a snob man. I don’t like anything popular either, but that movie was a geek like us showing how stupid and shitty his childhood and adolescent life was. You mean to tell me you never got shuved into a locker, or put in a head lock, wore moon boots to school. Give up the ghost man, noone cares that you’re famous now being a movie critic. It won’t tarnish you’re image to admit alittle of you’re childhood.


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  2. Felix Vasquez Jr. on Mon, 31st Jul 2006 10:47 am 

    You mean to tell me you never got shuved into a locker, or put in a head lock, wore moon boots to school
    Um… no… I’ve never had any of that happen to me. Sucks for you, though. Have I been bullied, well sure, everyone has at some point in their life. But am I Napoleon Dynamite, as you’re shrewdly alluding to? Nah. I’m too hot to put in a pot. Everyone’s been bullied, but that doesn’t mean translating it into a film is going to work.

    The trepidation from fans to my reaction from this is something I’ve come across since I watched this last year, so your comments are not surprising.

    But, if you’re expecting an apology or admittance of some kind, you’ll have to sit and wait for a long, long time. But the hint that my distaste for a shitty movie is some form of snobbery, well, there’s nothing I can change about your opinion. Some will agree with me, some won’t. And that’s life.
    Give up the ghost man, noone cares that you’re famous now being a movie critic.

    I’m famous? Thanks for telling me, I wasn’t even aware. You have an odd definition of the word “fame”.


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  3. Stina on Mon, 31st Jul 2006 7:18 pm 

    nobody likes to buy into hype…

    but a large chunk of the population does…b/c advertizers and merchandisers tell it to.

    thus, when those of us who read a book, saw a movie, or heard a band before they got “big”…before their likeness & words could be found in Hot Topics and Targets… see these books, movies, or bands plastered everywhere, we get a little annoyed.

    it’s not cool to like Napolean Dynamite now that it’s everywhere….it almost makes me hesitant to defend my liking it…after i saw it at the local indie/arthouse theatre in atl…before i saw his face on every consumer product imaginable.

    course, i’ll never be able to look at a tater tot in quite the same way ever again.


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  4. Charlie on Mon, 31st Jul 2006 9:28 pm 

    Did I just write that?


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  5. Gorillaboss on Tue, 1st Aug 2006 2:57 am 

    I never listen to what critics say even though I am one, and I make sure never to listen to internet surfers who think they know what a good movie is. — Felix Vasquez, Jr

    I’ve got some questions, Mr. Vasquez.

    Given that you put no stock in the opinions of other critics, why do you feel that your own criticism merits any consideration and/or value at all?

    Furthermore, how, exactly, are your web-based cinematic musings superior to the postings of those “internet surfers who think they know what a good movie is?” What separates a “real” cyber-critic (theoretically, you) from the Internet rabble?

    (I realize that all of the above can be answered with a self-satisfied, “Because I work for FilmThreat and they don’t–NYAH!,” but I am hoping for something more substantial.)


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  6. Corcoran on Tue, 1st Aug 2006 4:45 am 

    Have to say i partly agree with the critic on this one , I actually went out and bought the DVD recently after hearing from many people that it was excellent and like the critic i just didnt find it funny , mildly amusing maybe once or twice but not laugh out loud funny .

    And the people who recommended the film to me are not stupid or dumb as you make out , they just saw something in the movie that i didnt .

    I think that is fine though , because movies like most art forms are subjective and it is down to your own personal taste , a lot of the comedy i like ( the simpsons for example ) make me roar laughing but my wife doesnt think its that funny at all ..

    In summary different strokes for different folks with one exception , ANYONE who would pay money to go to the cinema to watch date movie must be a complete moron .


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  7. Felix Vasquez Jr. on Tue, 1st Aug 2006 6:25 am 

    I’ve got some questions, Mr. Vasquez.

    You? Nah. You’re always so quiet.

    Given that you put no stock in the opinions of other critics, why do you feel that your own criticism merits any consideration and/or value at all?

    I think that depends on readers. I don’t decide that because that would be vain, right? I don’t put too much stock in what other people say, but I do tend to respect the opinions of people I come across, and many of my colleagues as well.

    But if you liked “Napoleon Dynamite”, more power to you. I had no idea you felt so strongly about this film.

    Furthermore, how, exactly, are your web-based cinematic musings superior to the postings of those “internet surfers who think they know what a good movie is?”

    I don’t, nor have I ever claimed such. My comment was merely a jab at my friends, whom I like to lampoon every so often only because they find it funny. And I never claim to have superior opinions, I just write what I think and you find entertainment in responding to them. That’s what’s so fun about–as you call it–Film Fancy!

    What separates a “real” cyber-critic (theoretically, you) from the Internet rabble?

    I think it depends on reaction. I’m never one to call myself a “real” movie critic, I think it depends on how much stock people place on opinions. I’m happy you seem to place an inordinate stock on mine, and I’m flattered you think I’m a “real” critic. My chest swells!

    (I realize that all of the above can be answered with a self-satisfied, “Because I work for FilmThreat and they don’t–NYAH!,” but I am hoping for something more substantial.)

    Hmmm, well if you’ve ever read my blogs and or responses, you’ll know that I’m never prone to immature responses when it comes to being scrutinized or questions, so I hope your questions were rightly satisfied and rectified.

    You’ll like the next blog entry, I know you’ll have “questions” for that one, too. Garnering this type of response means I’m doing something right, and that’s “satisfying”?

    And I work at Film Threat so I’m better than you and everyone else–Nanner Nanner nanner! *blows raspberry*


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  8. Gigi on Wed, 2nd Aug 2006 7:17 pm 

    I liked it because it broke the mold. Maybe it wasn’t Citizen Kane, but someone was thinking outside the box. You never tee-heed once, not even with the steak face slapping?


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  9. FUNNY MAN TIM O'MALLEY on Thu, 3rd Aug 2006 6:41 am 

    You’re right and you’re wrong, Kind Sir.

    1) You are right, I’ve tried watching the film many times and can’t quite understand the perceived “brilliance.” You’d be surprised about how many films that come out of Sundance that simply fail to hold up after the hype wears off….we won’t be discussing this film 20 years from now, the way my generation discusses Breakfast Club or 16 Candles. It’s simply not that good.

    2) You are completely wrong, watching people get hit in the face with things is like the cat’s ass! Yeah! Like in Black Sheep, when Farley smacks the Grandma in the snoot with a football! That’s awesome…..


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  10. Gigi on Thu, 3rd Aug 2006 10:32 pm 

    My God Man! You can’t (in all fairness) compare anything to a 1980′s John Hughes film, it would be completly unfair! ;) You are right, and it’s true. But sometimes a film comes along and while it doesn’t define an era in your life, you think of it from time to time. One of my first indy films was “Heavy”. I totally dug that. But it’s put in the vault from time to time.


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  11. lucky on Mon, 7th Aug 2006 3:59 am 

    I thinks its reallly crap and meaningless ,like i mean it had no point what so ever!


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