Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is it time to forgive Napoleon Dynamite?

Somewhere around the 200th "Vote For Pedro" Hot Topic shirt and 300th conversation that ended with someone kicking the ground and exclaiming "Gaaahhhhd", we all came to the same conclusion... we could no longer stand that little independent hit, Napoleon Dynamite. And so, for the past several years, we've put it out of our heads and replaced it with a dozen other obnoxious sleeper hits.

But now the question is, has enough time passed that we can forgive NP all it's transgressions and appreciate the finer qualities? Okay, Jon Heder's performance can still grate enough cheese to feed an entire Olive Garden lunch crowd. And the dialogue is still more quirky than Zooey Deschanel and Diablo Cody combined. That being said, I can still appreciate most of the supporting cast and the overall design - it's very deliberate and serves the film very well.

Plus, I have to admit - my favorite character, Uncle Rico, still holds up. And the actor who portrays him, Jon Gries, is one of those great character actors that you may recognize as the werewolf from The Monster Squad

Right before we find out that werewolves do indeed have nards.

or as Lazlo from one of the best movies ever, Real Genius,

He's smart, and he'll let you borrow his pajamas.

 as well as a billion other projects. He's just one of a those actors who consistently work and are occasionally recognized, but remain nameless to the general public.

I suppose that I am positing this question of re-examining Napoleon Dynamite purely for old Uncle Rico. And let's face it: we all know that a couple of generations from now, some kids will discover this film and love it in an ironic way and shower it with that special love that only exists after being hit by a wave of glorious nostalgia, and it will be worshiped by audiences who never had to sit on a train surrounded by teenagers who proceeded to quote the same five lines from the film over and over AND OVER again while you sat there in the summer heat waiting for drunk and sweaty Cubs fans to get off the red line already.

So let's reclaim this sucker. Let's reclaim it without quoting it constantly, without dressing up as one of the characters for Halloween, without buying silk screened tshirts featuring our favorite character. Reclaim it quietly, friends. Not for Napoleon. But for Uncle Rico and the rest of the cast who didn't make us want to put our heads through a wall and for that art team that must have spent countless hours trying to find new ways to put red, orange and blue together.

Reclaim it quietly.

Subtle grace and dignity.


bibliophile21 said...

This is too cute of a post. I personally hated the movie itself, but it definitely is one of those "my generation" things that literally everyone can connect with. As annoying as the ND craze was, I think it's been long enough we can wax nostalgic about it now.

Jessica said...

Thanks :) I agree- parts are super annoying, but I definitely think the good parts are worth reclaiming.

GurlNxtDoor said...

I agree this post is cute and I think had Fox not aired the animated ND show, we could be nostalgic about it. I personally could not get past the first 20 minutes of the movie before I turned it off (and I never turn off movies in the middle) so I never understood the big deal about the movie in the first place. ND is sort of like bell bottoms; not everyone loved them, but dammit they were everywhere and helped define a generation.

Jessica said...

Oh wow- I hadn't even heard about the cartoon series! It is probably for the best, I am stomaching all the Napoleon I can handle (minus the Jon Gries element...bless him).

Fox said...

Kudos on the Gries love! Also memorable in Running Scared, Get Shorty, and as a homeless guy in the Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman get a rickshaw. But it's his funny/sweet performance as Lazlo that definitely gets him into actor's heaven. :)