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The film Napoleon Dynamite, directed by Jared Hess and produced by Jeremy Coon, Chris Wyatt, and Sean Covel, is a comedic portrayal of a high school teenager, Napoleon, played by Jon Heder, who struggles to fit the conventional mold of his surroundings, isolated from friends, social dynamics, and his own family. The movie was released in 2004 and written by Jared and Jerusha Hess. When assessing the social statements of the film, along with the inevitable social change that transpires, there is a transparent and crude, inaccurate political view that depicts the Hispanic actors, specifically Napoleon’s friend Pedro, played by Efren Ramirez, and his family, who are portrayed as being exaggeratedly reflective of stereotypes many Americans ignorantly impose onto Hispanic Americans and Hispanic culture. Although the film Do The Right Thing, produced by Spike Lee, is a drastically different plot, the prevalence of racism is comparable to that of Napoleon Dynamite. For example, in Napoleon Dynamite, when Pedro is first introduced, the school principal exploits Pedro’s cultural difference by asking him if he speaks English, in which the principal makes his own assumption that he likely cannot, renouncing Pedro the opportunity to respond in English, which he can. Similarly, in Do The Right Thing, Pino, played by John Turturro, a stubborn and racist Italian who works at his father’s pizza shop, has pre-established prejudice convictions toward the African American community, which inevitably fuels confrontation, leading to the ultimate demise of the pizza shop. Although both stories reveal their own social transformation, a distinct reformation made apparent in Napoleon Dynamite is Pedro’s victory of being appointed class president. In a climactic scene that takes place at school, Pedro wins his presidency against one of his classmates who references his Hispanic heritage to that of chimichangas. In this scene, it becomes apparent that racism manifested by the principal and classmates is marginalized by the prominence of Pedro’s victory and representation of a broader, more inclusive social dynamic. When assessing the developmental process of the film, the story behind Napoleon Dynamite is anything but stereotypical. As identified in a Deseret News article by Court Mann, the film’s writers, Jared and Jerusha Hess, after graduating from the film program at Brigham Young University, the Hess’s wrote and began filming Napoleon Dynamite in 2003 in Jared’s hometown of Preston, Idaho (Mann, 2019). A factor that differentiates Napoleon Dynamite from other major films is the reality that during production, Jared lacked any substantial connections to the film industry, making it somewhat of a homespun passion project (Mann, 2019). However, in 2004 the movie won the Sundance Film Festival and was then sold to Fox Searchlight for $5 million, projecting this humble film into the public limelight (Mann, 2019). To help further distinguish Hess’s film, the usage of cinematic devices certainly generates a unique portrayal. Specifically, the film has aggressive yet very purposeful scene changes and editing cuts, which force the audience to recognize particular responses and emotions interlaced in every scene. For example, when Pedro shows Napoleon his bike, Napoleon acknowledges his interest and amazement in the bike, and then the scene immediately transitions to the two boys then jumping the bike, validating the emotion that the bicycle represents. Overall, even though this film is a bit quirky and even gruelingly awkward at some points, I found it to be a unique portrayal of friendship and would recommend it to those who enjoy eccentric comedy and a cheerful resolution.
7 people found this review helpful
This movie is absolutely retarded. But that's the way its supposed to be. It's supposed to make you ask yourself, "wtf just happened?" So next time you see a hateful review, keep in mind that the writer is a pessimistic, narcissistic, piece of sh¡t. And has a mind like the north end of a southbound mule if they don't understand that the movie is supposed to be stupid. (P.s) I have the entire movie embedded in my mind it's that funny.
75 people found this review helpful