A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Nonconformity is celebrated in Napoleon Dynamite. Underneath the silliness and deadpan behavior of its main characters is the premise that even the lowliest members of a social order can succeed. Everyone has something to offer, no matter how offbeat or unconventional. Dignity and respect are possible by creating friendships and forming a community of people with whom one shares values and goals. Themes include compassion and empathy.
Positive Role Models
Reluctant respect is given to dysfunctional individuals who seem at first to be only objects of scorn. Laughing at the characters becomes laughing with the outrageously geeky as they win the day. Authority figures and adults are portrayed as clueless, self-serving, or both; for example, while comic in its intent, the authority figures (in addition to some of the students) of the high school reveal prejudice and cultural insensitivity toward a Mexican teenager new to the school.
Violence & Scariness
Teens ineptly wrestle, slap, and fight. A school bully is shown putting Napoleon in a headlock and pushing him in the locker; this same bully does this to another smaller teen, then attempts to grab the boy's bike as he unlocks it from the school bike rack. A school bus full of young kids stops the moment a farmer shoots and kills one of his cows with a rifle; the violence is not shown but strongly implied through the reactions of the kids. One of the lead characters is beaten up by a jealous husband when the husband catches him selling breast augmentation supplements to his wife; violence not shown, but implied by the injuries on the character's face and body.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Other than numerous scenes that include comical efforts to sell an herbal breast-enhancing product (using flyers and "straight-talking" sales pitches), sexuality is limited to mild kissing and embracing and exaggerated attempts at seduction, all with humorous intent. No nudity.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Insults and substitutes for obscenities only: multiple uses of "idiot," "frickin'," "retarded," "crap," "sicko," and "flippin'." One character is described as "still wets the bed." One of the characters becomes a door-to-door salesman passing out fliers for breast enhancement treatments.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Dodge van, Tater Tots, Gossner Foods milk.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Napoleon Dynamite is a quirky 2004 indie coming-of-age comedy. While it ultimately celebrates nerds and misfits, some may feel it fuels mockery and ridicule; others will simply find it funny. While the film is comical and satirical in its presentation, the authority figures of the high school, as well as one of the popular girls, reveal ignorance and prejudice toward a Mexican teen who is new to the school. When the teen, Pedro, runs for class president against the popular girl, there's a scene in which characters hit a pińata made to look like the popular girl. The comic action includes slapstick pratfalls (bike injuries to the groin, for instance) and exaggerated bullying by school tough guys. The language is never obscene; characters rely instead on insults ("idiot," "sicko," "retarded") and disguised swearing ("frickin'," "flippin'," "crap"). And there is mild sexual innuendo, along with some kissing and embracing. Napoleon's uncle tries to sell breast enhancement supplements door-to-door, so there's talk of breasts, breast size. There's a scene in which a school bus full of kids stops in front of a field where a farmer is on the verge of shooting a cow in the head with a rifle at point-blank range; the violence is not shown, but strongly implied by the reactions of the kids. Napoleon Dynamite became a box office bonanza and a cultural phenomenon, and spawned an animated series. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
What's great about this satisfyingly humorous movie is that it keeps us laughing with Napoleon, not at him. And that's thanks to Napoleon Dynamite's deliriously specific detail, superb use of the Idaho setting, affection for its characters, unexpected developments, and most of all its genuine sweetness. He may be clueless, but he has a great heart, and we know he will be fine, not just for a satisfyingly happy ending for the movie but beyond.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.