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other new + recent LAZE features:
o Flick: Garden State
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: The Corporation
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: Million Dollar Baby
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: I Heart Huckabees
o Flick: Coffee and Cigarettes
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: Before Sunrise
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: Owning Mahowny
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flick pick | Napoleon Dynamite 2004
Directed by: Jared Hess
Written by: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Starring: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  quintessentially quasi-adult, whimsical
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Napoleon Dynamite is a geeky teenager living in a bland small town in the middle of nowhere America, the sort of place where weirdness doesn't go over well. He looks funny; he talks funny; he spends his time doodling bad drawings and taking part in dorky clubs. Basically, Napoleon does whatever the heck he wants, and doesn't give two hoots that he's the subject of constant ridicule from his fellow classmates. Napoleon doesn't really like people all that much anyway; the few folks that actually are in his life mostly just drive him nuts. His grandma, with whom he lives, is always nagging him to go feed her llama; his brother Kip is 32 years old and still lives at home, where he spends all day chatting online with his internet girlfriend. But when his grandma ends up in the hospital after a dune buggying accident and his uncle Rico shows up to take care of him and Kip, Napoleon's heretofore predictable life is thrown out of whack. Rico's always plotting one lame get-rich-quick scheme or another, whether it's Tupperware sales or herbal bust enhancements, and his presence in town is making the taunting at school even worse than usual. Fortunately, though, Napoleon's made a couple of friends of late, including a side-ponytail-sporting girl named Deb and a new kid named Pedro, both of whom are as firmly entrenched in misfitdom as Napoleon. When Pedro decides to make a run for school president in a race that pits him against snooty cheerleader Summer Wheatly, Napoleon finds himself on a mission: Pedro for President!

Review Napoleon Dynamite is undeniably a comedy but it's not the kind of funny that really makes you roll around on the floor in hysterical fits of laughter. In fact, the first time I watched it, I'm fairly certain I didn't laugh out loud once. But I smiled a lot, and found myself saying a quiet hee! a fair bit, and afterwards, when the boy and were talking about it, we had more than a few good chuckles over Napoleon's dance and Pedro's wig, Tina the llama and Kip's transformation in the hands of internet girlfriend LaFawnda, Deb's homemade glamour shots studio and Napoleon's feebly-sketched liger (a half-tiger, half-lion hybrid that's Napoleon's favorite animal -- and as I later found out, totally not a made-up figment of Napoleon's imagination, which somehow makes it even more amusing). And somehow, by the second time I watched the movie, the funny had become much more obvious and I suddenly found myself snorting out loud at Napoleon's deadpan non-sequitors. The problem during my first viewing, I suspect, was that I was too busy trying to figure out where the movie was going -- which, in the grand scale of things, is just shy of nowhere. There's not a whole lot of plot action in Napoleon Dynamite, and the things that happen to Napoleon happen sort of randomly and sporadically; there's not the usual movie build-up to a big plot climax. But the second time around, I knew better than to wait for something to happen. And this time, I got it. Like real people, the many quirks of Napoleon and Co. don't necessarily reveal anything deep or portend anything big. There is no point to the idiosyncratic behaviors of the movie's characters -- they're just weird because, well, that's what they are. And that's the best thing about Napoleon Dynamite, and the thing that ultimately makes it kind of sweet: it knows that it's those tiny, inexplicable eccentricities that make folks so intriguingly unique, and it loves its characters for refusing to be anything other than their weird wonderful selves. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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