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Now in our fifth calendar year!
PCR # 233  (Vol. 5, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 6--12, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Napoleon Dynamite"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Double Book Review: "Tangled And Dark" by Patty G. Henderson
"Florida Curiosities" by David Grimes and Tom Becnel
Plus...Happy Anniversary Sunshine Skyway
 by William Moriaty
"Napoleon Dynamite"
 by Mike Smith
Chappelle's Show....Fanzine Memoirs
  by Vinnie Blesi
Guided By Voices CD review
 by Terence Nuzum
"The Rock and Soul Revue" concert review by guest reviewer Michael Smith
Oddservations Spotlight: Largo's Comic World owner Pat Potter
 by Andy Lalino
 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott
A Rant About Bush
 by Nick King
The Yankees Suck....Latest Kerry Rumor....Masters of Horror
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Happy Birthday....The Shame of The Yankees....Why Even Try....Is That A Guarantee?....What?....Meet The Beatles, Part 33
 by Mike Smith
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Fox Searchlight Films     
Starring: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez and Diedrich Bader
Directed by: Jared Hess
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 36 min

Sometimes in the busy summer, film critics find themselves having to make a decision. Two different films have been scheduled to be screened on the same night at the same time. I don't even remember what film I saw the night Napoleon Dynamite was also screened. However, thanks to Brandon Froelich and Tom Kohl, two players on a baseball team I helped coach, I was quickly filled in on the adventures of the title character, whose fondness for "Ligers" and tater tots knows no boundary.

Napoleon Dynamite (Heder) lives in the small town of Preston, Idaho with his older brother, Kip (Ruell), and their grandmother. A frequent visitor is their Uncle Rico (Gries), whose girlfriend recently left him because he still insists on living in 1982. We are led to believe that Rico was at one time a star high school quarterback, though nothing he does backs up that claim. He spends his off time out in fields, throwing footballs at a video camera, apparently trying to record his talent, or lack of it, for future generations. When grandma goes away on a trip, the boys find themselves left alone with Uncle Rico. They quickly learn that Uncle Rico is not the most responsible adult in town. The boys frequently argue, with Kip accusing Napoleon of being jealous because he spends his days, "chatting with the babes," which is how he refers to his cyberspace pals. Teaming up with Uncle Rico as poorly trained door to door salesmen, Kip announces that he has a visit planned from one of his online beauties. Meanwhile, Napoleon has found himself befriending Pedro, the new guy in school, whose immediate claim to fame is possessing the only mustache in school. With the upcoming school elections, not to mention the big dance, fast approaching, the adventures begin.

Napoleon Dynamite is one of the most original films to come along in some time. The credit for this must be split down the middle, with a great cast sharing the spotlight with a well-written script. Anyone who has ever spent time in high school, no matter the era, will quickly recognize the characters in this film. Napoleon is definitely the school nerd, whose self-proclaimed skills with a bow staff, love of tater tots and drawings of his favorite animal, the liger (part lion/part tiger) don't impress the chicks like he thinks they should. Napoleon reminded me of Rushmore's Max, minus the popularity. Pedro is quietly shy as the new guy, but not shy enough that he won't call in his tough Chicano cousins when he needs help running for class president. Kip, in my opinion, is what "My Three Son's" youngest, Ernie, would have ended up like had the show followed him to his 30s. The rest of the cast, from the cute cheerleader to the quiet girl that Napoleon and Pedro both vie for, are spot-on perfect. It's obvious that they, too, remembered their high school days and they bring their experiences to the screen.

As early word of mouth built, the cast and crew got together this summer and filmed a great "epilogue," which runs after the final credits. It's a funny wrap-up to some of the stories told, as well as a beginning of new ones. An original comedy that is laugh-out-loud funny is a rarity these days. Even rarer than a liger!

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Napoleon Dynamite"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Napoleon Dynamite" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.