Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
As slight as the picture is, though, its hero is an indelible creation.
This is the sort of Sundance audience hit that doesn't necessarily travel.
J. R. Jones,
For most of its length this delivers a steady stream of uncomfortable gut laughs.
Heder is magnificent, but the film's flat, eccentric tone is Hess' overarching achievement.
Ebert & Roeper:
I'm cracking up already thinking about that uncle again, who is obsessed with 1982.
An inspired dead-end stunt that keeps delivering snarky laughs far longer than it has any right to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A thrift-shop Wes Anderson pastiche masquerading as the latest in cult-film haute couture.
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.
While these kinds of stories often drown in their own eccentricity, the cast keeps the film afloat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's not as hilarious as it thinks it is, and it's sometimes too weird for words, but it is often pretty funny.
It's a cast of brilliant caricatures, and as such recalls the films of Wes Anderson.
In Fourth of July terms, its pop is less dynamite than firecracker.
There are lots of laughs for those who enjoy the sight of bottom dwellers doing stupid things that make them look even more idiotic.
An epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood, flooring the competition with a petulant shove.