Kid on Bus: What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?
Napoleon: Whatever I feel like I wanna do — gosh!
It took nearly two months for me to purchase my first DVD of the year: Napoleon Dynamite.
This is one of those films for which there's no middle ground: people either love it or hate it. I fall into the "love it" camp. It reminds me of my childhood, and of people I knew at Canby High School.
Deb: What are you drawing?
Napoleon: A liger.
Deb: What's a liger?
Napoleon: It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed, bred for its skills in magic.
Naploeon is a teenager in a small rural Idaho town. He's like a geek except that he's not particularly smart. In fact, he's rather stupid. The film, which is almost plotless, follows Napoleon's interactions with his family — his whiny brother, Kip, who meets "hot babes" via on-line chat, and his Uncle Rico, who is living in the past — and with two new friends — Pedro, the only kid in high school who can grow a moustache, and Deb, who is cute but shy.
Kip: (insulting Deb) Your mom goes to college.
The film isn't about the story so much as it's about the characters. Some of those who hate this film complain that none of the characters are sympathetic, and Napoleon least of all. Perhaps that's true, but these characters seem real to me. They may not be the same people I knew when I was younger, but they are people I might have know. They really are.
Napoleon: Well, nobody's going to go out with me.
Pedro: Have you asked anybody yet?
Napoleon: No, but who would? I don't even have any good skills.
Pedro: What do you mean?
Napoleon: You know, like: numchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!
(sound file for the above exchange)
Napoleon Dynamite references are starting to creep into daily life. You can buy window decals featuring phrases from the movie; other on-line stores offer t-shirts and stickers. There's the soundboard that I posted in the flotch recently. Last night at trivia, a table next to us kept shouting "Rex Kwan Do!" in reference to some question (that I cannot recall). This was only funny to those who'd seen the movie:
Rex: (in television commercial) I'm Rex, founder of the Rex Kwan Do self-defense system! After one week with me in my dojo, you'll be prepared to defend yourself with the strength of a grizzly, the reflexes of a puma, and the wisdom of a man.
There's something about the movie that captures what it's like to grow up in a small town. Napoleon has to feed his llama. On the weekends, he works at a chicken farm.
Napoleon: Do the chickens have large talons?
Farmer: Do they have what?
Napoleon: Large talons.
Farmer: I don't understand a word you just said.
The film's entire world just feels small town.
Napoleon Dynamite isn't a film for everyone. I understand why some people hate it. And I understand that most of the kids who love it, love it in an ironic way. Me, I love it outright.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2004 — Amend This I'm neither for nor against gay marriage, just as I'm neither for nor against any other type of marriage. I certainly don't understand in what way the issue is worthy of a Constitutional amendment.
2003 — Customer Disservice I called Omnis Hosting several times this morning but was immediately routed to voice mail. But their phone system wouldn't let me leave voice mail.