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.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
A small-scale, deadpan film.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
In Fourth of July terms, its pop is less dynamite than firecracker.
Mike Clark - USA Today
I laughed. And I laughed primarily over Heder's hilarious performance.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
One of the most winning movie creations in years.
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
An inspired dead-end stunt that keeps delivering snarky laughs far longer than it has any right to.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
An epic, magisterially observed pastiche on all-American geekhood, flooring the competition with a petulant shove.
Michael Atkinson - Village Voice
Hess' deadpan debut could have been so much better if only he'd had the courage to actually appreciate his loser characters.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
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.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
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.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
Has a sweet momentum.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
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.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
This is the sort of Sundance audience hit that doesn't necessarily travel.
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
For most of its length this delivers a steady stream of uncomfortable gut laughs.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
When the audience roared at Napoleon's almost spastic way of slicing the air with his limp-spaghetti arms, I cringed.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
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.
Jeff Strickler - Minneapolis Star Tribune
An independent take on a Hollywood tradition, undermined by its cliches but saved by its performances.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Has more belly laughs than 10 studio-produced, star-vehicle comedies.
Bill Muller - Arizona Republic
There are lots of laughs for those who enjoy the sight of bottom dwellers doing stupid things that make them look even more idiotic.
Todd McCarthy - Variety
A little movie with a lot of heart and a lot of laughs.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The funniest film of the summer.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
It's not as hilarious as it thinks it is, and it's sometimes too weird for words, but it is often pretty funny.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Has nerd chic.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
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.
David Edelstein - Slate
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.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The joke is always the same, and even the most easily amused may grow weary of that sameness.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
You'll laugh till it hurts.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
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.
Kevin Crust - Los Angeles Times
For all its charm and its impeccable leads, Napoleon Dynamite is a modish exercise in anti-cool. Still, a strong debut for all its young talents.
Dean Essner - Film4
One-of-a-kind high school comedy for the family.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
Napoleon's climactic spaz-out dance is more than just a goofy gag. It's a payoff to a great buddy-system comedy and the idea that it's not high school's dreams and regrets that last, but the sometimes-bizarre friendships.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
too odd to dismiss and often truly funny
Jay Antani - Cinema Writer
Just incredibly mind-numbing and unfunny...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Napoleon Dynamite may not even be friggin' sweet, but it does have skills. [Blu-ray]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
The characters are all weird and nothing much happens in Napoleon Dynamite, yet this droll and understated geek-comedy zings with truth.
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Heder seems perversely bored, unable to hold his eyes open; was that a conscious acting choice, or was he simply reading his lines off the floor?
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Writer-director Jared Hess tries for John Hughes by way of the Coen Brothers, but only comes up with one dull, unfunny non-sequitur after another.
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
If you have an indie film sense of humor -- and those of you who have it know what I mean -- you'll probably enjoy this flick.
Mary Lasse - Christianity Today
It's a cast of brilliant caricatures, and as such recalls the films of Wes Anderson.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
Seething with teen-angst irritability and an obstinate blind ignorance to just how much of an outcast he is, Napoleon Dynamite may be the biggest dork in the history of high school movies.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
As long as you don't mind making fun of the afflicted, there are some killer comic moments.
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
Delights in deadpan %u2013 celebrates nerd. And is a testament that beauty can be found everywhere. A charming, albeit quite odd cinematic piece. Harold and Maude -lite.
Ross Anthony - Hollywood Report Card
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
I began to appreciate the neat reversals of expectations, slow pace and serene non sequiturs of the plot, the film's smart approach towards teen alienation, ludicrous ambition and impossible dreams.
Philippa Hawker - Sydney Morning Herald
Dean Essner - Sydney Morning Herald
Brian Rentschler - ScreenRant
Napoleon Dynamite isn't exactly the year's funniest film, but it does make for a memorable experience that can be enjoyed over and over again.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
Leave this one for the dogs.
Bill Clark - FromTheBalcony
Functions like an excruciating episode of Jerry Springer.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
A Roschach test of viewer empathy
while I respect the concerns of those who find the movie cruel, I have to side with those who find it ultimately endearing.
Steven D. Greydanus - Decent Films Guide
'March to the beat of your own drum,' the movie may say, 'but we will laugh at you.'
Jeffrey Chen - Window to the Movies
E recheado de estereotipos dos mais ofensivos, mas torna-se agradavel e divertido gracas ao apelo de seu personagem-titulo.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
It's honestly kinda sweet and moving -- the blissed-out celebration of the lurking outcast inside all of us.
Brent Simon - Now Playing Magazine
...makes a good attempt for about its first quarter hour at showing us the dilemma of the high school outsider.
John J. Puccio - DVDTown.com
John J. Puccio - Movie Metropolis
What is touching, however, and perhaps the film's central theme, is the strength, however strangely expressed, of the friendship between Napoleon, Deb and Pedro.
Anton Bitel - Movie Gazette
Not much really happens in this film but it's an oddly heart-warming character study and will ring bells with anyone who has ever spent any time in a small town.
Michelle Thomas - Future Movies UK
Revels in its own kookiness and is the most engaging teen movie to emerge from the States for many a year.
Adrian Hennigan - BBC
Dean Essner - Sunday Times (Australia)
Bubbles with barely suppressed loathing for its characters and setting.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
An offbeat, frequently funny comedy that gradually wins you over, much like its central character.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
[..]sans une veritable ligne directrice, le film ne possede pas suffisamment d'attraits pour en faire une comedie reussie.
Louis-Jerome Cloutier - Panorama
Plays, hilariously, like Revenge of the Nerds directed by David Gordon Green... It's legitimately funny and fresh, and it doesn't glom onto any obvious formula.
Nick Davis - Nick's Flick Picks
Hess knows his characters -- sad sacks and misunderstood nerd geniuses who inhabit straight-laced Middle America.
Andrew Griffin - Town Talk (Alexandria, LA)
Jon Heder gives a classic slapstick performance, something along the lines of the silent great Harry Langdon, that sleepy-headed weirdo baby, after a hormonal growth spurt.
Alan Dale - Blogcritics.org
These characters never conform, and neither does the film.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
After watching so many big-budget movies loaded with special effects, I appreciated this film's simple production values, even those opening credits written on plates of food.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
If you walk in with an open mind and an acute appreciation for forging truly unique characters and interactions, you'll come back five times.
Mike Ward - Richmond.com
While it runs out of steam near the end, it never runs out of charm, thanks to Jon Heder's narcoleptic zeal as the title character.
Jesse Paddock - culturevulture.net
Napoleon Dynamite is like watching Todd Solondz kick a dog on Nickelodeon
Jimmy O - Film Snobs
Its acutely observed triumph is also its undoing: It's hard to satirize oppressive tedium without becoming oppressively tedious. This movie's not low-key, it's no-key.
Jonathan R. Perry - Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)
I don't know if I was laughing at [Napoleon] or with him, but I was certainly laughing during the movie.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
The great thing about the film is that it refuses to cave in and make Napoleon a hero.
Michael W. Phillips, Jr. - Goatdog's Movies
With wit as dry as the chapped lips of a constant mouth-breather, Napoleon Dynamite finds moments of painful reserve even in slapstick.
Martin Scribbs - Low IQ Canadian
This is a movie for the kid who ever thought about keeping a pair of nunchucks in his locker, or preferred drawing pictures of sword-fighting barbarians to playing football.
Brian Mckay - eFilmCritic.com
You may not like him much. But you'll find yourself rooting for "Napoleon Dynamite."
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
...a movie by smart people about dumb people, and as such it runs the risk of defaulting to simple ridicule to tease out the requisite number of laughs.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
This film is more about scoring points over Jon Heder's unique performance than in telling a meaningful story.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Yes, Napoleon Dynamite has some of that annoying forced indie quirkiness, but it also possesses a certain wayward originality
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Whether audiences laugh at or with them, the motley denizens of Preston, Idaho, and Napoleon Dynamite seem poised to win a devoted fan base.
Kevin Lally - Film Journal International
A wacky, weird high school film that John Waters and the Coen brothers could have co-directed. Soo-weeet.
Jeffrey Bruner - Des Moines Register
It's easy to envision 'Napoleon' eventually becoming a staple of college DVD parties, in the same way that 'Office Space,' 'High Fidelity' and 'Bottle Rocket' have.
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
It's a great showcase of Schadenfreude so if that's your thing, run, don't walk to the movie. Fabulous, unique performances.
Karina Montgomery - Cinerina
The spite is evident: the movie is meant to appeal to less-extreme dorks than Napoleon so they can feel better about themselves.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
There is nothing dynamic about this "Dynamite"
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
There's an interesting factor at play here: many of the film's laughs come from the way Napoleon so stubbornly refuses to adhere to the conventions of adolescence.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
Jon Heder delivers a fearless performance that's almost breathtaking in its wormy detail.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
As slight as the picture is, though, its hero is an indelible creation.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Leaves viewers with a welcome and all too rare feeling of movie-induced giddiness...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
It's more the fusion of forces by friends on the same askew wavelength who combine their skills into something greater than their sum.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
Napoleon Dynamite has all the markings of a midnight show perennial.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
Audiences love this movie. So do I.
Victoria Alexander - Movie Reviews in Croatian
Although it sometimes feels like a one-note joke stretched out too long, it's still probably the most unique comedy you'll see all year.
Phoebe Flowers - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Steve Schneider - Orlando Weekly
The slow burn and deadpan dumbness of Napoleon Dynamite is a perfect fit for its minimalist aesthetic.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
You'll laugh. You'll feel silly for doing it. Then you'll do it again.
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Has quirky humor in spades, but needs a story to tie it together.
Sean O'Connell - Eclipse Magazine
Jared Hess pushes Napoleon's stupidity as far as it can go in pursuit of cheap laughs, but achieves nothing that isn't easily forgettable.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
Funny enough that I'll refrain from describing the gags that made me laugh, lest I spoil them for you.
Glenn Kenny - Premiere Magazine
It's a quirky, fresh slice-of-life more inviting than a tater-tot pyramid.
Marrit Ingman - Austin Chronicle
Dean Essner - Baltimore Sun
Napoleon Dynamite is no Election or Welcome to the Dollhouse, but this Sundance hit is a pleasant enough outing.
Jean Lowerison - San Diego Metropolitan
It's an empty, affected experience, and a 5-minute joke stretched out to 85 of the most soul-sucking, higher-power-questioning minutes found in a movie this year.
Brian Orndorf - FilmJerk.com
A giant inside joke for those who know the peculiarities of rural Idaho.
Audrey Rock-Richardson - Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah)
May be the most condescending comedy ever to imagine itself being too cool for the room.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
Hess and Heder allow Napoleon to remain his geeky self from beginning to end, a guy who -- like his movie -- dares to be different and succeeds.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
He makes Geekus Hollywoodium -- always played by someone such as Ben Stiller, whom we know to be fundamentally cool beneath his nerdy veneer -- look like the fraudulent genus we know it to be.
Karen Karbo - Oregonian
We laugh at all the nerdy behavior in the movie, and there's a reason that's OK: Because, deep down, we know we are all nerds.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
This is basically a collection of hit-and-miss skits that are stumbling around in search of a story line.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
The most disappointing thing about "Napoleon Dynamite" is that it chooses to make its lead character the butt of its jokes
Vanessa Sibbald - Zap2it.com
Imagine a John Hughes teen comedy remade by Jim Jarmusch and dropped into the town that time forgot.
Sean Axmaker - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The bits are hit-and-miss, though the funny ones are often very funny.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
It's a vacuum-packed Idaho spud of a world, but funny.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
The movie merits a low-wattage recommendation even though it's short on things to say.
Robert Denerstein - Denver Rocky Mountain News
Heder is magnificent, but the film's flat, eccentric tone is Hess' overarching achievement.
Tom Keogh - Seattle Times
A landmark achievement in curdled nostalgia, but the whole enterprise leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
This is a lot of kitsch, but the movie has a strange sort of affability that pulls you along.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
A very funny sketch of high school nerds in rural Idaho
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
Hess does creatively produce a droll gem that exudes a nerdy naughtiness worthy of exploring in all its deadpan deliciousness
Frank Ochieng - Movie Eye
...feels sort of like the work of a lousy Wes Anderson cover band.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
You must see it to believe it because this film is entirely original. The movie's final line will have you in stitches. It's the most romantic line ever said on film!
Jamie Gillies - Apollo Guide
Napoleon may start out as a caricature, but there is a subtle and gradual change that occurs.
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com
A few minutes in, we know all the punchlines.
Austin O'Connor - Lowell Sun
Napoleon Dynamite is like a cinematic bully, picking on the nerds with apparent glee
Christian Toto - Washington Times
Captures, to hilarious extremes, all the uncomfortable- in- your- own- skin humiliation of teen dorkdom...
Rob Blackwelder - SPLICEDWire
Dean Essner - Boston Phoenix
It's one of a kind, and kind of a masterpiece.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
There's no cohesive story, just a series of opportunities for the title character to strut his gawky stuff.
Carla Meyer - San Francisco Chronicle
[An] endlessly and cheerily ridiculous film... highly intellectually involving...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
A noteworthy achievement in freaks-and-geeks cinema and often reminscent of the work of Rhode Island's famed Farrelly brothers.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
You may find yourself feeling a bit guilty about enjoying it so much.
Derek Tse - Jam! Movies
If I wanted to spend 90 minutes with someone like that, I'd just watch myself in the mirror...for 90 minutes.
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
No-frills celebration of cluelessness.
Glenn Lovell - San Jose Mercury News
Massages a few angry yuks at the expense of its misfit gallery.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
This quirky-nerdy, heartland-set tale of a teen outcast's life and dorky times fizzles.
James Rocchi - Netflix
One of the more bizarre and original characters in recent memory, Napoleon provides some great laughs despite an uneven story that often loses steam.
Jeff Otto - cinemaobsession.com
Napoleon and his pals aren't the heroes of a Bruce Springsteen song who get up every morning and go to work each day. They're knuckleheads.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
The movie's deliriously specific detail, affection for its characters, unexpected developments, and genuine sweetness keep us laughing with Napoleon, not at him.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
A call to be yourself in light of those around you and have confidence in whatever your 'skills' may be, no matter how geeky or nerdish.
Ryan Cracknell - Movie Views
'This is pretty much the worst video ever made,' Napoleon complains. ... I know exactly how he feels.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
I'm cracking up already thinking about that uncle again, who is obsessed with 1982.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
It's an outlandish, goofy diversion.
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
Jonathan W. Hickman - Entertainment Insiders
Like a confused film school student, director Jared Hess is happy to pay homage to his film heroes, but doesn't have enough passion to say much of anything in his own voice.
Larry Carroll - FilmStew.com
Mistakes insults for jests and racism for narrative guile.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
Take Poindexter from Revenge Of The Nerds, give him as much charisma as, let's say a wet rag and let him master one facial expression - then you have Napoleon Dynamite.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
A physically adept comedian, Heder and the rest of the spot-on cast provide a smattering of chuckles, but they get hung by the one-note script that feels like an amusing sketch stretched too long.
Dean Essner - E! Online
While these kinds of stories often drown in their own eccentricity, the cast keeps the film afloat.
Lisa Rose - Newark Star-Ledger
Doesn't reach the hilarious heights that its short film predecessor Peluca does. It's funny in places, but not satisfying...wait to rent it.
John Venable - Supercala.com
Ostentatious and pointless, firing quirkiness out of a machine gun and saying nothing in the process.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Commitment to honesty, along with enough genuine laughs, gives Napoleon Dynamite an appealing humanity that will leave you smiling.
Glenn Whipp - Los Angeles Daily News
One of the most original and quirkily endearing debuts since Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Napoleon Dynamite is a quirky and appealing comedy set in Idaho about an oddball teenager who waits patiently until he gets his chance to shine on his own terms.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Supremely condescending...If you need to look down on others to feel better about yourself, 'Napoleon Dynamite' is the movie for you.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
guaranteed to win over the geek inside most of us
Chris Barsanti - Filmcritic.com
A thrift-shop Wes Anderson pastiche masquerading as the latest in cult-film haute couture.
Scott Foundas - L.A. Weekly
Nerdiness will never seem the same.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
...a wonderfully skewed story that weaves together tater tot fetishism, a voracious llama, tether ball, Internet dating, and the high school presidential race...
Spence D. - IGN Movies
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.
Gene Seymour - Newsday
plays like a demented after school special that exists in rural America but feels like it came from outer space
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
This goofy American original works largely due to the determined weirdness of star Jon Heder
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
A trashy Midwestern remake of Rushmore.
Jurgen Fauth - About.com
a wry and sober comedy about family neglect and social ostracism that is deeply, truly funny
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Best nerd movie since 'American Splendor.'
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
A quirky, one-of-a-kind comedic gem. Even when you aren't laughing out loud, you won't be able to stop from smiling.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
The most fascinating outcast since Harold and Maude. Trouble is, Harold and Maude were going someplace; their story had a direction.
Gabriel Shanks - Mixed Reviews
For those who think there'e nothing funnier than yokels acting like idiots for 90 minutes straight.
Ed Gonzalez - Slant Magazine
Both as written and as acted, every single character in Napoleon Dynamite -- is richly characterized and distinctly drawn.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine
There's a depth of character and droll humor in Napoleon Dynamite that recalls a dash of the Coens and a pinch of Wes Anderson.
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
A gloriously quirky, hysterically funny ode to rural dullness that is probably the fairest, most accurate film representation that Preston, Idaho, will ever get.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
The film runs the risk of devolving into a live-action cartoon. That it never does is a credit to the Hess' strong screenplay and to the actors.
Pam Grady - Reel.com
Each actor perfectly compliments the Hess's original brand of humor that keep steady giggles bubbling from the audience, inspiring frequent bursts of uproarious laughter.
Eric Campos - Film Threat
Imagine an out-there cartoon and watching it spring to live-action on the big screen.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com