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dir. Jared Hess
Sam, Nate and I were at Paco's Tacos the other night and a guy in line with us was wearing a "Vote for Pedro" shirt. Nate was busting up, but I was like, "Huh? I don't get it. I thought Villaraigosa's first name was 'Antonio'..."
Sam and I were probably the only two people left in the Western World (other than Wen) who hadn't seen Napoleon Dynamite, so Nate lent us the DVD. Now that I've seen it, I have to admit that I am very disappointed, which probably puts me among a handful of people in the Western World who didn't think the movie was "freakin' sweet".
There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but the laughs come way late in the movie and they don't really last. My major criticism is that the film just tries too hard to pretend like it isn't really trying hard at all.
While I understand the comparisons many fans have drawn between Napoleon Dynamite and the films of directors like Todd Solondz and Wes Anderson, I can't help but think that director Jared Hess was trying really hard to imitate Solondz and Anderson *. I would agree that Napoleon Dynamite has a similar whimsical freeform narrative style and recognizably quirky misfit characters, but I think the film lacks any of the heart and originality that Solondz and Anderson instill into their masterpieces. The tiny shred of a plot in Napoleon Dynamite is horribly clichéd and the characters are ridiculously cartoonish, especially the title character.
I'm not even sure the film is all that quotable either, and yet, it seems everyone nowadays is spewing out Napoleon Dynamite quotes.
* Despite my disappointment with Jared Hess' feature debut, he shows promise as a director. I just hope that the runaway success of this cheap rip-off doesn't go to his head and prevent him from maturing beyond a mere wannabe.
I dunno, maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe the film was overhyped and built up too much for me before I finally saw it. Maybe I would've loved it had I seen it before everyone else did. Then again, maybe it really does suck.