• PG, 1 hr. 26 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Jared Hess
    In Theaters:
    Jun 11, 2004 Limited
    On DVD:
    Dec 21, 2004
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures


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Napoleon Dynamite Reviews

J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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For most of its length this delivers a steady stream of uncomfortable gut laughs.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

July 24, 2007
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
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It's a cast of brilliant caricatures, and as such recalls the films of Wes Anderson.

Full Review Source: Time Out

June 24, 2006
Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
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Napoleon Dynamite may be forcefully weird and intermittently humorous, and you might not know what the heck to make of it, but there's nothing shocking about its screenplay.

Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Original Score: B-

July 21, 2005
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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The funniest film of the summer.

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 4/5

July 16, 2004
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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As slight as the picture is, though, its hero is an indelible creation.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 2.5/4

July 16, 2004
Tom Long
Detroit News
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An independent take on a Hollywood tradition, undermined by its cliches but saved by its performances.

| Original Score: C+

July 2, 2004
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
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May be the most condescending comedy ever to imagine itself being too cool for the room.

Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press | Original Score: 1/4

July 2, 2004
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
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Has more belly laughs than 10 studio-produced, star-vehicle comedies.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4/5

July 1, 2004
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Calling this story about a quirky high-school student from a dysfunctional family who lives in a goofy small town a one-joke movie is exaggerating by a factor of 10.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 0.5/4

July 1, 2004
Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
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Heder is magnificent, but the film's flat, eccentric tone is Hess' overarching achievement.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

June 25, 2004
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
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The movie merits a low-wattage recommendation even though it's short on things to say.

| Original Score: B-

June 25, 2004
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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Has a sweet momentum.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 25, 2004
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
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Even if you don't like the film and its freak-show depiction of small-town life, it's hard not to admire the commitment of Jon Heder's performance.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: B-

June 24, 2004
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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When the audience roared at Napoleon's almost spastic way of slicing the air with his limp-spaghetti arms, I cringed.

| Original Score: 2/4

June 24, 2004
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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It's not as hilarious as it thinks it is, and it's sometimes too weird for words, but it is often pretty funny.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/5

June 18, 2004
Carla Meyer
San Francisco Chronicle
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There's no cohesive story, just a series of opportunities for the title character to strut his gawky stuff.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

June 18, 2004
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
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Has nerd chic.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 18, 2004
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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An inspired dead-end stunt that keeps delivering snarky laughs far longer than it has any right to.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3/4

June 18, 2004
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
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I laughed. And I laughed primarily over Heder's hilarious performance.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

June 18, 2004
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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There is a kind of studied stupidity that sometimes passes as humor, and Jared Hess' Napoleon Dynamite pushes it as far as it can go.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 1.5/4

June 18, 2004
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
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One of the most winning movie creations in years.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

June 18, 2004
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
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No-frills celebration of cluelessness.

| Original Score: 2.5/4

June 17, 2004
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
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This is the sort of Sundance audience hit that doesn't necessarily travel.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

June 17, 2004
David Edelstein
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Too low-wattage to be a true nerd anthem, but it's charming in retrospect, when you're freed from the narcoleptic pace to think back on the queerly beautiful tableaux and well-timed gags.

Full Review Source: Slate

June 17, 2004
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
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I'm cracking up already thinking about that uncle again, who is obsessed with 1982.

Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper

June 14, 2004
Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
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While these kinds of stories often drown in their own eccentricity, the cast keeps the film afloat.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger

June 11, 2004
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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A little movie with a lot of heart and a lot of laughs.

| Original Score: 3/4

June 11, 2004
Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
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Hess' deadpan debut could have been so much better if only he'd had the courage to actually appreciate his loser characters.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 11, 2004
Kevin Crust
Los Angeles Times
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It's a simple collection of sight gags and pratfalls that mines the overly familiar turf of awkward adolescence without bringing anything truly original to the experience.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 1/5

June 10, 2004
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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A small-scale, deadpan film.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 3/5

June 10, 2004
Mike Clark
USA Today
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In Fourth of July terms, its pop is less dynamite than firecracker.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 10, 2004
Gene Seymour
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Maybe if I weren't as far removed from high school as I am now, I'd be much more into the movie's warped depiction of teenage wasteland.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2.5/4

June 10, 2004
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
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A thrift-shop Wes Anderson pastiche masquerading as the latest in cult-film haute couture.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

June 10, 2004
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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The 2004 Sundance crowd-pleaser has got the tableaux suitable for Diane Arbus photos down pat, but no real interest in the people negotiating those life situations.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: C-

June 9, 2004
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
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An epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood, flooring the competition with a petulant shove.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

June 8, 2004
James Berardinelli
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With a low-key sense of humor and without the slightest whiff of sentimentality, Hess delivers a film about geeks that makes Revenge of the Nerds look like the Hollywood tripe that it is.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 3/4

June 6, 2004
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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You'll laugh till it hurts.

| Original Score: 3/4

June 3, 2004
Todd McCarthy
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There are lots of laughs for those who enjoy the sight of bottom dwellers doing stupid things that make them look even more idiotic.

Full Review Source: Variety

June 2, 2004
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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The joke is always the same, and even the most easily amused may grow weary of that sameness.

February 18, 2004
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