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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dynamite Napoleon

Ever since Christmas my oldest son, Ryan, has been wandering through the house reciting lines from a movie called, "Napoleon Dynamite." And so we rented it one recent Friday night (in addition to a few others).

The joke in our house is that dad never stays awake past the first 10 minutes of a movie. He's just not a movie guy. But since we had picked up one of his all-time favorites ("Animal House"), he was motivated to keep the Diet Coke flowing and stay awake through Napoleon.

It's a quiet movie, full of pregnant pauses, limited dialogue and very little action. My first reaction was, "This is dumb!" But I have to say, upon subsequent watchings the movie and its bizarre characters (Napoleon, his 32-year-old weasly brother Kip and their '80s-throwback Uncle Rico) began to grow on me.

Napoleon is the ultimate loser, sporting moon boots, harvey high-zips and a red 'fro. He gets shoved into lockers, calls from the nurse's office for Chapstick ("My lips hurt real bad!"), plays tetherball and loves to dance. His unemployed brother, Kip, spends his day surfing Internet chat rooms for the love of his life until he meets LaFawnduh, who travels from Detroit and turns Kip into a bling king. ("LaFawnduh is THE best thing that's ever happened to me. I'm 100% sure she's my soulmate. Napoleon, I'm sure there's a hot babe out there somewhere for you.")

I was amazed to learn in today's PD that the movie was made by several film students at Brigham Young University. It never dawned on me, but the movie is free from profanity, drugs, drinking and sex. In fact, the harshest language is Napoleon yelling, "Flippin' ID-iot! Gosh!" That's pretty tame (sadly) compared to what my kids are used to seeing.

In fact, Danny and I were almost embarrassed by the raucus, beer-swilling, carousing antics of the members of the Delta House in Animal House. In the immortal words of Dean Wormer: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

So maybe this movie and it's popularity signifies a turn in filmmaking. That teens will watch (repeatedly!) a movie that doesn't contain violence (unless you count a locker slam and what amounts to a 10-second bitch-slapping session between Kip and Napoleon), drunken debauchery or sexually explicit scenes.

That gives me hope. And so I welcome Napoleon and all his lines into my house. Think we'll leave Belushi and friends at the video store for now.

— As Kip would say, "Peace out."

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