Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

napoleonIn recent years I’ve come to know a guy, rather peculiar and rather interesting one whom I couldn’t quite place. Whenever I met him he was always doing his best to be the soul of the party. More often than not he was succeeding – you couldn’t enter into a room without noticing either him or this peculiar voice he spoke with. He was (and still is) somewhere around seven feet tall and somewhere around 250lbs in weight. He wasn’t a model figurine that would appear in any sort of movie or any self-respecting fashion ad but he had this radiating charisma that could compete with any movie-star out there. He was drinking like a retired pirate and his lurking body overshadowed almost anyone that came to be in his presence. You could have dubbed him as ‘party animal’ and you wouldn’t be that wrong. Still, there was the other side of him. Quite, almost awkward side that played computer and board games, old school pen and paper RPGs, smoked lots of pot and did anything that could be connected to geek subculture in this way or the other. He played basketball as well which meant that he couldn’t have been cast in any high-school movie because he was just refusing to behave as a stereotype. You couldn’t place him in any predetermined role – I still have to see a movie with a jock/nerd character that isn’t treated as obscure, fascinating and quite possibly extremely dangerous endangered animal.

vlcsnap-2014-07-02-00h14m03s158Still, there was something quite strange about him and it wasn’t just this mix of activities that I was finding him in. More than anything it was his voice, or rather this manner of speech which was so alienated and so out-of-tune that you couldn’t help but think that he constantly talks in auto-ironic referential manner that is devised solely for a purpose of making fun of an entire world. It looked like an act though it really wasn’t. It may have started as such but have since become integral part of his identity, something more than a referential satire. I couldn’t understand it. I could understand his speech but I was constantly failing to grasp his cultural background. I never asked him about that, fuck it – I couldn’t have known if I was reading this right – it might have been that he didn’t have any sort of awareness of this and it would have come across as rude. So I let go, deciding that I just don’t care that much. People can do whatever they want. Especially when it concerns personas they choose to appear in.

Last night though, it all came back. I was watching Napoleon Dynamite, cult movie from early 2000’s and suddenly it all became clear. All this time he was channeling Jon Heder (or his character though this distinction doesn’t really matter), playing the part of Napoleon Dynamite in real life. Within the movie-universe Napoleon was strange, without it he was stranger. That someone chose to do this is nothing short of vindication of Hess’ brothers work. This awkward, strange kid, managed to become nothing short of a role model. There was a time when people wanted to be just like John Rambo (I knew guys who went into war in a complete Stallonian outfit), this is the time in which people want to be douchebags like Barney Stinson, or psychopaths like Walter White. Role models are a plenty and many of them are a strange lot. Amongst these, models that speak to an entire generation, to quite, intelligent people who think with their heads outside the box are hard to come by. The Dude was one of them and Napoleon Dynamite is his worthy successor. Can’t believe it took me so long to stumble upon this movie. I missed it by a decade and I feel that it would have spoken to me in a different voice back then. I lost something I never had though it could have easily been mine. I only have to figure out what exactly that is.

Directed by Jared Hess
Produced by Jeremy Coon
Chris Wyatt
Sean C. Covel
Jory Weitz
Screenplay by Jared Hess
Jerusha Hess
Based on Peluca
by Jared Hess
Starring Jon Heder
Jon Gries
Efren Ramirez
Tina Majorino
Aaron Ruell
Diedrich Bader
Haylie Duff
Music by John Swihart
Cinematography Munn Powell
Edited by Jeremy Coon
MTV Films
Napoleon Pictures

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