Napoleon DynamiteRating: 

We love to see the geeks win. That’s why we have Revenge of the Nerds andWeird Science and Loverboy (or whatever). The problem is that this shit never happens in real life. Sure, the nerds end up being multi-billionaires and own huge companies like, say, Microsoft, but very, very rarely do they win while still in that juvenile detention center they call high school. There is a big, but subtle, difference, of course, between nerds, dorks and losers. Most of the filmmakers who grow up to make these underdog high school films were most likely nerds in high school. The people who act in them were probably dorks, and us, the viewing public, is filled with losers. This last category fits Napoleon Dynamite to a t. He is skinny and awkward, and has a ‘fro, thick glasses, and for some reason wears snow boots in the middle of summer. His wardrobe consists of t-shirts with wolves on them and lots of pants with side-zipper pockets. He has no friends, no parents and an oddball 32-year-old brother who still lives at home and bosses him around. In order to pump himself up he invents “skills” for himself, including nunchuck and fighting skills. Even the one skill he actually does have, drawing, he’s not very good at. He plays tetherball by himself every day and is constantly beat on by the jocks. You just don’t get any more loserish that that. But along comes Pedro, the new Mexican student in this lily-white school. Napoleon realizes right off the bat that this is the someone he has been looking for; the biggest loser/outsider of ’em all. The someone to buy his brags of ninja and BMX skills, and girlfriend in Canada who you’ll never meet. Napoleon misjudges him, of course, and finds out that not only does Pedro have an awesome bike, but that he’s fearless in his quiet confidence. It is through Pedro, and ultimately his loser brother, that being happy with who you are and the skills you have is the first step to happiness. After all, we all have a skill in us that makes us unique, even if it is buried under layers of nerdiness. The movie is unendingly depressing and odd. The oppressive awkwardness of Napoleon, his friends, Deb and Pedro, and his brother and creepy uncle, who has been accused of living too much in 1982, is a little unnerving at times, but sets things up nicely for the end of the movie. For instance, Pedro shaves his head for some bizarre reason half way through the movie, and is inexplicably embarrassed to be seen with a shaved head. He’s then fitted with a ridiculous wavy brown wig, which he continues to wear for the remainder of the film despite the fact his hair probably would have grown back at that point. At times it felt like and SNL skit gone on a little too long. At other points it felt like a nice character study. Either way, everyone should see this one just to witness the strangeness of it all.