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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Quickly adopted by college-aged hipsters and declared fans of “quirky” films, Napoleon Dynamite is quite possibly the worst thing to happen to cinema since the birth of Michael Bay. Some have been quick to liken Jared Hess’ droll, deadpan style of humor to Wes Anderson’s deliberately tranquil style of filmmaking. These comparisons seem to only notice the surface-deep similarities of static screen compositions and the focus on character interaction over dynamice plot details; far more critical are the differences, most notably the fact that Wes Anderson actually cares about his characters and their existential plights, whereas Napoleon Dynamite exists only to parade them around for ninety minutes worth of soulless ridicule. The cast of characters: Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder), a socially handicapped loser of the lowest order, Pedro Sanchez (Efren Ramirez), a walking Mexican stereotype seemingly on a steady stream of Thorozine, and Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), an ex-college football athlete who hopes to time travel back to 1982, where things should have turned out differently. The film’s structure (something like intentional piecemeal) only reinforces its contempt for its characters, not that they particularly deserve any sympathy in the first place. The film is content to allow these sad souls to wander from one set piece to another, engaging in pointless behavior that aims to inspire laughs the movie pretends it doesn’t recognize; all the viewer can do is sit back and watch to see what gags work and which ones don’t (for me, only the poorly-timed execution of a sick cow counts as genuine humor). Laughter multiplies, and, like the convicted murderers who look back with horror at their lynching of an innocent man in Fritz Lang’s Fury, I too was mortified upon second viewing at the fact that I fell for the film’s hateful indulgence the first time around. That the screening of the movie I attended was one of my few social encounters with the fraternity members amongst my dorm is a telling piece of evidence; Napoleon Dynamite is equivalent to the relentless mockery of social outcasts by the popular folk on a school playground: nasty, undeserved, and completely fucking pointless.

I dont understand why you and so many others refer to Pedro as a Mexican stereotype. A stereotype is a biased generalization about a group based on hearsay, opinions, and distorted, preconceived ideas. I live in Texas, and most of the Mexicans that I know or see here are no different than he. Also, the film shows how the members of his family are very supportive of one another, which is also not, in fact, a stereotype but a reality in hispanic families.

You seem to be another snobby critic that cant pull the corncob out of your ass long enough to enjoy a film for what it is.....a 2 hour diversion from reality, not a social statement or something intended to be art. Oh and I will be sure not to use "anonymous" since that pisses you off so much.

Firstly, "anonymous" doesn't so much piss me off as it is a sign of cowardice. Own up to your statements, people.

Your statements are based less on the fact that I actually look for meaning in film and film culture (including the crowd-pleasing, just-for-entertainment type that I'm just as open to - ever heard of Ong-Bak?) than the fact that I'm not a declared member of the Napoleon Dynamite fan club. A peice of shit is a peice of shit, period, and this was probably one of the ten or twelve worst things I've ever seen upon second viewing. Loving film includes disregarding movies that I think do the medium a disservice, so pardon me for having an opinion.

And as for what constitutes a stereotype, well, that's more of a relative perception thing than anything. The entire movie was so completely absent of anything that all the characters struck me as complete stereotypes, but I did fail to mention that in the first place.

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