Napoleon Dynamite 2004

Critics score:
71 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Scott Von Doviak, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ A landmark achievement in curdled nostalgia, but the whole enterprise leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Read more

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press: May be the most condescending comedy ever to imagine itself being too cool for the room. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: As slight as the picture is, though, its hero is an indelible creation. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: This is the sort of Sundance audience hit that doesn't necessarily travel. Read more

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

Tom Keogh, Seattle Times: Heder is magnificent, but the film's flat, eccentric tone is Hess' overarching achievement. Read more

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

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: I'm cracking up already thinking about that uncle again, who is obsessed with 1982. Read more

Bill Muller, Arizona Republic: Has more belly laughs than 10 studio-produced, star-vehicle comedies. Read more

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

Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times: 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. Read more

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: 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. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Has a sweet momentum. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: 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. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: 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. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: A thrift-shop Wes Anderson pastiche masquerading as the latest in cult-film haute couture. Read more

Gene Seymour, Newsday: 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. Read more

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

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

A.O. Scott, New York Times: A small-scale, deadpan film. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: The funniest film of the summer. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: 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. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: 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. Read more

David Edelstein, Slate: 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. Read more

Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune: 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. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: Has nerd chic. Read more

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

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: It's a cast of brilliant caricatures, and as such recalls the films of Wes Anderson. Read more

Mike Clark, USA Today: In Fourth of July terms, its pop is less dynamite than firecracker. Read more

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

Michael Atkinson, Village Voice: An epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood, flooring the competition with a petulant shove. Read more

Desson Thomson, Washington Post: I laughed. And I laughed primarily over Heder's hilarious performance. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: One of the most winning movie creations in years. Read more