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Napolean Dynamite

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Something of a cult hit, Napolean Dynamite is a comedy that follows a short period of the life of teenager Napolean Dynamite.
Napolean is something of a loser. He is portrayed in such a way that you’d expect him to be the typical “loser with 195 IQ” of films about kids, but the sad fact is, he just ain’t too bright. Most of the film comes across as something like “The Office, but about high school kids” although it’s not pretending to be a fly-on-the-wall documentary. However, the plentiful deadpan and well-acted awkward moments, as well as the somewhat peevish and petty main character, are reminiscent of (the UK version of) The Office.
Very much a character comedy (as seems to be the “in” thing at the minute), Napolean Dynamite just wouldn’t work if the characters were crap. Luckily, the parts are well-played – from Napolean’s even weirder older brother, their stuck-in-the-past uncle, to the just-as-awkward-girl-who-likes-Napolean, and not forgetting the pumped-up Rex (“Rex Kwon-Do!).

The film doesn’t really come across as any typical kind of comedy, I guess broadly you could call it a “loser comedy”, but it doesn’t follow the same formula as most loser comedies do. That’s probably a big contributor to its success – OK, so it’s another character comedy, but yet again it’s donig things its own way. or at least, differently to the average comedy (well, maybe soon we’ll have to redefine what the “average” comedy is, eh?).
What I appreciated the most about Napolean Dynamite is the number of seemingly random, unconnected scenes that occur throughout the film, only to be woven together in the last 20 minutes or so. It’s like what films such as Pulp Fiction did, but without having to resort to timeline-bending to do it. There’s no jumping backwards and forwards here, it’s forwards all the way.
Great stuff. 4/5

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