46. Napoleon Dynamite
In the summer of 2004 I had lots of time on my hand. Every weekend my friends and I would go to the movie theater for the day. We’d see 2 or 3 movies (taking a break in the middle to get lunch). Most of these days are kinda forgettable but one particular day we saw Garden State and Napoleon Dynamite back to back. Both of these were life changing in different ways, I’ll discuss Garden State at a later date but Napoleon Dynamite gave me the same reaction that watching Clerks gave me ‘I could have made this with my friends’
Most of the time when people say this it’s a negative thing. “This movie sucks, I could have made it”. When I say it what i mean is that this movie is the type of film my friends and I would write. We were Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro, perhaps not as socially inept, but we were basically our own little circle of friends, we played D&D and talked about make-believe creatures like Ligers.
Napoleond Dynamite was a generally plotless film. The DVD plot summary says it’s the story of how Napoleon tries to help his friend Pedro win the school election, but Pedro doesn’t decide to do that until an hour into the 90 minute movie. More than anything it’s a series of shorts about a weird town where no viewer can tell what year it’s suppose to be.
I immediately fell in love with this movie, not for the outrageous quotes (for which there are many) but for the more bizarre elements like Kip’s smirk after saying ‘your mom goes to college’, or Uncle Rico’s scream when Napoleon throws a grapefruit at his van.
Now when I first saw this movie, it was in an empty theater with just my friends. A week later we more friends to go see it and it was a half full theater. We attempted to see it a third time a week later and it was a sold out show.
I should have been happy about this, but it made me more annoyed than anything. The people who were laughing suddenly weren’t laughing in a ‘oh man, I relate to this’ way, they were laughing in a ‘look at that loser way’. I felt like something I loved had been taken away from me.
I had to walk away from the movie for a few years. I recently rewatched it and it took me back to that magical place that I took me to 8 years ago. I was filled with nostalgia and joy.