World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Napoleon Dynamite

Article Id: WHEBN0000882119
Reproduction Date:

Title: Napoleon Dynamite  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jared and Jerusha Hess, Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite, Haylie Duff, 20th Independent Spirit Awards
Collection: 2000S Comedy Films, 2000S Teen Films, 2004 Films, American Comedy Films, American Coming-of-Age Films, American Films, American Independent Films, American Teen Comedy Films, Directorial Debut Films, English-Language Films, Features Based on Short Films, Fictional Characters from Idaho, Films Directed by Jared Hess, Films Set in 2004, Films Set in Idaho, Films Shot in Idaho, Fox Searchlight Pictures Films, Latter Day Saint Cinema, Mtv Films Films, Napoleon Dynamite, Paramount Pictures Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jared Hess
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Peluca 
by Jared Hess
Music by John Swihart
Cinematography Munn Powell
Edited by Jeremy Coon
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 17, 2004 (2004-01-17) (Sundance)
  • June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $400,000[1]
Box office $46.2 million[1]

Napoleon Dynamite is a 2004 American independent art-house comedy film written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by Jared. The film stars Jon Heder in the role of the title character, for which he was paid $1,000. After the film's runaway success, Heder re-negotiated his compensation and received a cut of the profits.[2] The film was Jared Hess' first full-length feature and is partially adapted from his earlier short film, Peluca.

Napoleon Dynamite was acquired at the Sundance Film Festival by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Paramount Pictures, in association with MTV Films. It was filmed in and near Franklin County, Idaho in the summer of 2003. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004, and in June 2004 was released on a limited basis. Its widespread release followed in August. The film's total worldwide gross revenue was $46,118,097.[3] The film has acquired a cult following.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Background 3
    • Setting 3.1
  • Production 4
    • Opening sequence 4.1
    • Origin of the name "Napoleon Dynamite" 4.2
  • Reception 5
  • Awards 6
  • Soundtrack 7
  • Animated series 8
  • Lawsuit 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Napoleon Dynamite is a socially awkward 16-year-old boy from Preston, Idaho, who lives with his older brother, Kip, and their grandmother. Kip, 32, is unemployed and boasts of spending hours in Internet chat rooms with "babes" and aspiring to be a cage fighter; their grandmother leads a secret life involving mysterious boyfriends and quad-biking in the desert. Napoleon daydreams his way through school, doodling ligers and fantasy creatures, and reluctantly deals with the various bullies who torment him, particularly the obnoxious sports jock, Don. Napoleon likes to make up stories about himself whilst having a sullen and aloof attitude.

Napoleon's grandmother breaks her coccyx in a quad-bike accident and asks their Uncle Rico to look after the boys while she recovers. Rico, a middle-aged and flirtatious former athlete who lives in a campervan, uses the opportunity to team up with Kip in a get-rich-quick scheme to sell numerous items door-to-door. Kip wants money to visit his Internet girlfriend LaFawnduh, while Rico believes riches will help him get over his failed dreams of NFL stardom and the loss of his girlfriend.

Napoleon becomes friends with two students at his school: Deb, a shy girl who runs various small businesses to raise money for college; and Pedro, an aspiring comedian and transfer student from Acapulco. A friendship soon develops between the three outcasts. During this time, preparations begin for the high school dance. Pedro asks Deb to be his partner, which she accepts, with Napoleon choosing and attempting to persuade a reluctant classmate called Trisha. Inspired by a poster at the dance, Pedro decides to run for class president, pitting him against Summer Wheatley, a popular and snobby girl at the school. The two factions put up flyers and give out accessories to the students to attract voters. Kip, meanwhile, is head-over-heels in love since LaFawnduh has come to visit him from Detroit. She gives Kip an urban makeover, outfitting him in hip hop regalia.

Rico and Kip's ongoing scheme causes friction with Napoleon when Rico begins spreading embarrassing rumors about him, to evoke sympathy from his prospective customers. Rico later tries to sell Deb a breast-enhancement product, claiming it was Napoleon's suggestion, which causes her to break off their friendship. His scheme ends when he visits the wife of the town's martial arts instructor, Rex, to try and sell her the breast enhancements, but Rex walks in and beats him up after witnessing Rico's demonstration.

On the day of the class president elections, Summer gives a speech before the student body, and then presents a dance skit with a school club. Pedro and Napoleon then discover that a skit was also required from them, and a despondent Pedro gives an unimpressive speech. Napoleon then gives the sound engineer a music tape he received from LaFawnduh, and performs an elaborate dance routine to "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai. The routine receives a standing ovation from everyone except for Summer and her boyfriend, Don.

The film concludes with Pedro becoming the class president, LaFawnduh leaving with Kip on a bus for Michigan, Rico reuniting with his estranged girlfriend, Grandma returning from the hospital, and Napoleon and Deb making up and playing tetherball.

In a post-credits scene, Kip and LaFawnduh are married in an outdoor ceremony in Preston. Napoleon, absent for the vows, arrives riding a horse, claiming that it is a "wild honeymoon stallion" that he has tamed himself. Kip flicks an accessory of LaFawnduh's dress as a "keepsake" towards Napoleon, Rico, and Pedro, before he and LaFawnduh ride off across the fields.


The cast of Napoleon Dynamite.



Preston is a real town in Southeastern Idaho, located near the Utah border. Since the release of Napoleon Dynamite, it has become a tourist attraction of sorts, with the high school being a main feature. Preston held a Napoleon Dynamite Festival every summer from 2004 through 2008 to celebrate the filming of Napoleon Dynamite in Preston and nearby towns. Napoleon Dynamite was shot in the towns of Preston, Idaho and Richmond, Utah.[4]

The film is set during the 2003-2004 school year, as shown on Napoleon's student ID card.[5][6] However, the film contains a number of anachronisms indicating that it would be more appropriately set in the 1980s or 1990s. For example, Deb wears a side ponytail and Napoleon wears Moon Boots, both popular fashion trends of the 1980s.[6] One scene is set at a school dance which only plays 1980s music such as Alphaville's "Forever Young," while a later scene features students performing a sign language rendition of "Larger than Life," a Backstreet Boys song released in 1999.[5] Much of the technology in the film is also archaic; Napoleon uses a VCR and Walkman cassette player, Kip connects to the Internet via a pay-per-minute dial-up connection and Uncle Rico drives a 1975 Dodge Tradesman.[6][7]


Opening sequence

The film was originally made without opening titles; audiences at test screenings were confused about when the film was set. Eight months after the film was completed, the title sequence was filmed in the cinematographer's basement.[8] Aaron Ruell, who played Kip, suggested the idea of the title sequence. The sequence shows a pair of hands placing and removing several objects on a table. Objects like plates of food had the credits written in condiments, while other objects like a Lemonheads box or a tube of ChapStick had the credits printed on them. Hess explains:[8]

We actually had Jon Heder placing all the objects in and out [of frame], and then showed it to Searchlight who really liked it and thought it was great, but some lady over there was like "There are some hangnails, or something — the hands look kinda gross! It's really bothering me, can we re-shoot some of those? We'll send you guys a hand model." We were like "WHAT?!". This, of course, was my first interaction with a studio at all, so they flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder. So we reshot, but they're now intermixed, so if you look there are like three different dudes' hands (our producer's are in there too). It all worked out great, though, and was a lot of fun.

Origin of the name "Napoleon Dynamite"

Upon the film's release, it was noted that the name "Napoleon Dynamite" had originally been used by musician Elvis Costello, most visibly on his 1986 album Blood & Chocolate,[9][10] although he had used the pseudonym on a single B-side as early as 1982.[11] Filmmaker Jared Hess states that he was not aware of Costello's use of the name until two days before the end of shooting, when he was informed by a teenage extra.[12] He later said, "Had I known that name was used by anybody else prior to shooting the whole film, it definitely would have been changed ... I listen to hip-hop, dude. It's a pretty embarrassing coincidence."[12] Hess claims that "Napoleon Dynamite" was the name of a man he met around 2000 on the streets of Cicero, Illinois, while doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[13][14]

Costello believes that Hess got the name from him, whether directly or indirectly. Costello said, "The guy just denies completely that I made the name up ... but I invented it. Maybe somebody told him the name and he truly feels that he came about it by chance. But it's two words that you're never going to hear together."[15] Costello has taken no legal action against the film.


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 71% of 163 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy."[16] Rolling Stone magazine complimented the film, saying, "Hess and his terrific cast — Heder is geek perfection — make their own kind of deadpan hilarity. You'll laugh till it hurts. Sweet."[17] The Christian Science Monitor called the film "a refreshing new take on the overused teen-comedy genre" and said that the film "may not make you laugh out loud — it's too sly and subtle for that — but it will have you smiling every minute, and often grinning widely at its weirded-out charm."[18] Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice praised the film as "an epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood, flooring the competition with a petulant shove."[19] In a mixed review, The New York Times praised Heder's performance and the "film's most interesting quality, which is its stubborn, confident, altogether weird individuality", while criticizing the film's resolution that comes "too easily."[20] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film one-and-a-half stars, writing that he felt that "the movie makes no attempt to make [Napoleon] likable" and that it contained "a kind of studied stupidity that sometimes passes as humor".[21] At the time, Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C-.[22]

Entertainment Weekly later ranked Napoleon #88 on its 2010 list of The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years, saying, "A high school misfit found a sweet spot, tapping into our inner dork."[23] The film was on several year-end lists. Rolling Stone placed it at number 22 of the 25 Top DVDs of 2004.[24]

The term "The Napoleon Dynamite Problem" has been used to describe the phenomenon where "quirky" films such as Napoleon Dynamite, Lost in Translation and I Heart Huckabees prove difficult for researchers to create algorithms that are able to predict whether or not a particular viewer will like the film based on their ratings of previously viewed films.[25]

Despite mixed reviews and a very limited initial release, Napoleon Dynamite was a commercial success. It was filmed on an estimated budget of a mere $400,000, and less than a year after its release, it had grossed $44,940,956. It also spawned a slew of merchandise, from refrigerator magnets to T-shirts to Halloween costumes.


  • Best Feature Film at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival the same year. The film's budget was only $400,000. When the film rights were sold to a major distributor, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox supplied additional funds for the post-credits scene.
  • In 2005, the film — itself an MTV Films production — won three MTV Movie Awards, for Breakthrough Male Performance, Best Musical Performance, and Best Movie. The film is #14 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
  • It won the 2005 Golden Trailer Awards for Best Comedy.
  • It won the 2005 Golden Satellite Award for Best Original Score (John Swihart).
  • Four awards at the Teen Choice Awards. Best Movie Breakout Performance - Female for Haylie Duff, Best Movie Dance Scene, Best Movie Hissy Fit for Jon Heder, and Best Comedy.
  • The 2004 Film Discovery Jury Award for Best Feature
  • April 2005, the Idaho Legislature approved a resolution commending the filmmakers for producing Napoleon Dynamite, specifically enumerating the benefits the movie has brought to Idaho, as well as for showcasing various aspects of Idaho's culture and economy.[26][27]


Animated series

The characters of the animated series.

In April 2010, Fox announced that an animated series was in development. It was also revealed that the entire original cast would return to reprise their roles.[28] The series debuted on Sunday, January 15, 2012. Director Jared Hess, his co-screenwriter wife Jerusha, and Mike Scully are the producers of the show, in association with 20th Century Fox Television.[29] On May 14, 2012, It was announced that Fox had canceled the series.[30] The complete series was released on DVD on November 4, 2014 by Olive Films.[31]


On August 30, 2011, Napoleon Pictures filed a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight for $10 million for underreporting royalties and taking improper revenue deductions. In its term sheet, Fox agreed to pay 31.66% of net profits on home video. The lawsuit says that a 2008 audit revealed that Fox was only paying net royalties on home videos at a 9.66% rate, and there were underreported royalties and improper deductions.[32]

Napoleon Pictures also alleges that Fox has breached the agreement in multiple other respects, including underreporting pay television license fees, failing to report electronic sell-through revenue, charging residuals on home video sales, as well as overcharging residuals on home video sales, deducting a number of costs and charges Fox has no right to deduct and/or for which there is no supporting documentation.[32]

In May 2012, Fox went to trial after failing to win a summary judgment on the case. The trial began on June 19, 2012.[33] On November 28, 2012, a 74-page decision sided with Fox on 9 of the 11 issues. Napoleon Pictures was awarded $150,000 based on Fox accounting irregularities.[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Stereogum article: "Napoleon Dynamite Vs. Elvis Costello".
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Contact Music article: "Costello Adamant Napoleon Dynamite Was His Idea".
  16. ^
  17. ^ Travers, Peter (June 24, 2004), "Napoleon Dynamite (Film)". Rolling Stone. (951):186
  18. ^ Sterritt, David (June 11, 2004), "Revenge of the (Idaho) nerd in 'Napoleon Dynamite'". Christian Science Monitor. 96 (138)
  19. ^
  20. ^ SCOTT, A. O. (June 11, 2004), "FILM REVIEW; A Nerdy Nobody of a Hero Who Proves to Be Napoleonic." New York Times. :15
  21. ^ 1.5/4 stars
  22. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (June 18, 2004), "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (Film)". Entertainment Weekly. (770):60-63
  23. ^ (June 4, 2010), "88. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE". Entertainment Weekly. (1105/1106):90
  24. ^ (November 25, 2004), "Napoleon Dynamite (Film)". Rolling Stone (962):82
  25. ^
  26. ^ Idaho's resolution commending Jared and Jerusha Hess at the Wayback Machine (archived January 1, 2006)
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^
  34. ^

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.