Last night I saw what was far and away the best film of the festival so far: Napoleon Dynamite. The packed screening of about 100 high-level press people loved the film as well. Not one person left the screening (on average 3-5 do), they were laughing out loud repeatedly (some uncontrollably) before giving the film a hearty round of applause (a big deal in a press screening). As I’ve mentioned, the film press are perhaps the most jaded and cynical strain of journalists they make theater and food reviewers look tame.
As the press filed out and looked at each other for approval (some interesting gamesmanship goes on at this moment I notice) everyone smiled broadly and start laughing and talking about this scene, that t-shirt or the dance routine. The energy was palpable.
OK, now on to this wonderful film.
Napoleon Dynamite is a delusional high school nerd who lives in his own fantasy world in a small town in Idaho. Picture Max from Rushmore with absolutely no talent. Napoleon has no friends and no skills, as well as no conception of just how much of a nerd he is. In fact, he actually thinks he is normal and at times even cool. He is so out of touch that in many cases the bullies and jocks don’t know what to make of him, of course this doesn’t stop him from being randomly slammed into lockers.
In one classic scene Napoleon, along with a group of girls, give a sign language performance to “The Rose” to an absolutely befuddled class.
Napoleon’s 32 year old brother Kip is a stay-at-home nerd who spends most of his time chatting online with potential soul mates. Dressed almost exclusively in golf shirts buttoned to the top, and sporting a matted down haircut, Kip is an ubernerd.
When Napoleon meats Pedro, a new student at his high school, it is kismet, for no two greater nerds have existed. At one point Napoleon confirms their bond asking Pedro outright if they are, like, friends? Once confirmed the film takes off as the two, as well as a female nerd (there are some out there), revel in the mundaneness of their lives.
Meanwhile with Napoleon and Kip’s grandmother in the hospital their Uncle Rico comes to take care of them (and eat their steak). Rico is a washed up thirty something who’s best days came when he almost “won State” as a high school football player in 1982 if only the coach had put him in! Rico and Kip go on a mission to make some moola selling door to door.
While this all may sound boring, the comedic timing, dialogue, costumes and performances in this film are, well, perfect. Napoleon and his crew are constantly using the word “sweet” while they develop their skills.
Pedro decides to run for President of the high school, and with Napoleon’s advice (tell them that if they elect you that their wildest dreams will come true) and special brand of support the film climaxes in traditional revenge of the nerds fashion.
I can’t say enough good things about this film, and frankly explaining any more of the story to you is pointless. The story is the characters and their totally sweet skills. (Sorry, they say “sweet” over and over it’s contagious.) You’ll love this film which is destined to be a cult classic for years to come.