Saturday, November 16, 2013

Napoleon Dynamite

Have you seen this movie? It came out in 2004 and when I first saw it I *hated* it. It was one of those train-wreck movies that are so bad you can't stop watching it. I didn't know what was happening, or why. It's not that I didn't understand it - it's hardly complex - I just didn't understand why someone would think anyone would care about this mess. So I wrote it off as two hours of my life I'd never get back.

But then a friend whose tastes I usually share and who is a "cinema" buff told me that she loved it. What? Seriously? So, since I respect her opinion, I gave it another shot, this time with an open mind and looking for the ironic humor she swore was I there. And you know what? The second time, I didn't hate it. I kinda got it.

While not my favorite film, or even in my top 50, if I'm flipping channels and it's on I'll stop and watch for a bit. The llama, the interpretive sign-dancing, Napoleon's epic dance at the school assembly - they're funny. I laugh-ish. I can see why a studio picked it up for next to nothing at the Sundance Film Festival and why it has a cult following. It's quirky and irreverent, and it's self-effacingly dumb. There's a certain charm to that.

It's also, at its heart, a "sweet" movie - a story of a friendship between three high school misfits and their families in a town in the middle of nowhere. There's no epic grand finale where they all become fabulous and leave Preston, Idaho. But in their own way they all get their quiet, simple happy endings. Really, what more can anyone ask for than to finish watching a movie and having a smile?

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