Napoleon Dynamite

Starring Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez. Director by Jared Hess.
Running Time: 86 mins
With a title like that, it has to be offbeat. It is.

Setting is Idaho and, I am afraid, the film is not conducive to buying tickets to visit that state. It seems flat and endless, with the usual small town, high school and shops, a bit like Anywheresville. Maybe, that's the kind of setting for a guy like Napoleon.

Napoleon (Jon Heder) is a nerd, a geek or whatever the current word is for a tall, moppy red-headed, bespectacled gangly and gawky adolescent with a penchant for saying the wrong or obnoxious thing. He has a (very) short bespectacled brother who eventually experiences a makeover during his girlfriend's visit - she is tall, black, sexy and from Detroit. He has a semi- sleazy salesman uncle.

He is looked down on by the jocks, despised by the beauty queens and, generally, seems to have nothing to offer. However, he grows on us and we really do hope that he will get on well with the nice girl who thinks he is wonderful (she does not judge just on appearances!) and find his way in life. And he makes every effort so that his Hispanic classmate will win the school student presidency.

This has 'cult film' all over it - and it seems already to be headed that way with box-office beyond expectations. It is small-budget (with the boom making frequent appearances at the top of the frame) with child star Tina Majorino the only name member of the cast.

Not necessary viewing but the film has a certain ditzy charm that is sometimes quite beguiling.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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