Okay, I'm firmly in the half of Napoleon Dynamite's audience that thinks 'WTF?'.
On paper, I should like this movie, or at least see the merit in it. It is unconventional and weird. It has an outsider/marginalised hero. The humor is, um, unusual. Its chock-full of quotables and lexicon nominees.
But I feel like a total mainstream lamer fuck. I just don't get it. I mean I feel all the things that fans of the film feel apparently... but only for about ten minutes. After that, it just doesn't keep up even a minimum effort to entertain. Its almost bad-documentary dry (or as boosters like to say 'subtle'). After those ten minutes you've met almost all the characters. Seen them be incredibly awkward (frequently making you the viewer uncomfortable), and then you (at least I) am expecting these characters to be put through some ordeal, be it fish-out-of-water scenario or rise-past-limitations/expectations story. But that never happens. The whole film is just a slice of life for weird Idaho-ans. I guess the arrival of Uncle Rico is supposed to be the world-shift challenge that Napolean and company meet, but everything comes off like they'd just find something else to behave exactly the same way about whether Rico was there or not.
I thought the funniest character (in the conventional sense) in almost every way was Rex, the martial arts instructor, who coincidentally is played by the only veteran comic actor in the film, Diedrich Bader, the mulleted neighbor in Office Space. He isn't the ONLY funny thing about the movie, but he really had me fooled at the beginning that this film was going to be entertaining. That was a bad assumption on my part. Rex is NOT the only funny thing but the real laughs are so few and far between. The payoff in Napolean's dance scene is pretty awesome, but really doesn't make up for all the tedium in getting to it.
The film made the interesting and effective choice of looking like it is firmly set in the 70s, yet with the 80s cassette audio tapes and VHS video tapes being the common media in use... and that set alongside the concept of the internet and chat rooms. So if nothing else the look of the film is as odd as the characters. And I'll say this; wow, what a transformation for Napolean, Kip, and Deb. Holy shit, they look almost nothing like their real selves. Jon Heder (Napolean) in particular, just dis-afucking-pears.
Anyway. I feel so totally un-hip, but I just can't bring myself to like it. I still can't really figure out why it was made... what the point of it is. Maybe it's some delayed action thingie that'll strike me when I'm out riding a bike or taking a shower. You'd think with all the shirts, quotes, and paraphernalia that have been swirling about since its release, that even a dense old shit like myself would be in on the joke.
Maybe my kids should watch it then they can explain it to me.