Release: 11 Jun. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
Last year my choice for the worst film of the year was The
Real Cancun, a film dedicated to the de-nerdification of a kid in the eyes
of his Abercrombie-beautiful roommates during Spring Break. Though The Real
Cancun was called a reality film, its supposed tap on "reality" was abhorrently presented with odd
narrative shifts, unfulfilled plots, and unconvincing character outlines.
The same can be said about Sundance sensation Napoleon Dynamite, the fiction
derivation of The Real Cancun. Iím already
hedging bets that itíll be my choice for this yearís worst film.
Taking the agitation out of Todd Solondz, the good-humor out of the Coen
brothers, and the sweetness out of Wes Anderson, director Jared Hess
presents a wholly unpleasant experience of watching those director's stock
miscreants as oppressively cloying caricatures. Napoleon Dynamite is a 90-minute
non-sequitur aiming for the audience to laugh at how utterly clueless the
characters are. Look at the kid feed his llama! Look at the nerdy white guy meet his big
black internet girlfriend! Look at the failed jock electrocute his crotch!
Thereís probably three dozen jokes that make up Napoleon Dynamite, and the
whole movie is merely meant to setup each unfunny follow-through.
This is not Rushmore or Welcome to the Dollhouse -- the outsiders of those
films werenít exploited for the movie audiences and the directorís ridicule.
In many ways, this is the long-awaited Bruno Dumont comedy, starring an
unknown in the Adam Sandler role. Thereís nothing in this film other than
derision for the nerds, the blacks, the Latinos, and the jocks. Stepping on
toes is part and parcel for Hess, and the final product is a completely
unpleasant experience. Whatís worse, I wasnít offended by anything in the
film -- that would imply the work actually having some bite -- I was just disturbed that anyone ever considered this humorous.