Napoleon Dynamite

  • Review Date: December 21, 2004
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

Common Sense Media says

One-of-a-kind high school comedy for the family.
  • Review Date: December 21, 2004
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.

Positive role models

Over the course of the film, 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. All of the authority figures and adults are portrayed as either clueless, self-serving, or both.

Violence

Teens ineptly wrestle, slap, and fight. School bullies torment the social misfits but inflict no injuries. Some animal cruelty is shown, and a man appears to have been beaten up by a jealous husband.

 

Sex

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, embracing, and exaggerated attempts at seduction, all with humorous intent. No nudity.

 

Language

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."

 

Consumerism

Dodge van, Tater Tots, Gossner Milk.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this quirky film celebrates nerds and misfits, some may feel it fuels mockery and ridicule; others will simply find it funny. The comic action includes slapstick pratfalls 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 Dynamite became a box office bonanza, cultural phenomenon, and spawned an animated series.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) just can't catch a break. Life seems so unfair. Women only like men who've got skills, and to Napoleon that means numbchuck skills, computer hacking skills, or maybe some really sweet dance moves. But those endless arms and legs don't seem to want to cooperate well. Then there's Napoleon's uncle and his schemes to make a lot of money and go back in time to that crucial turning point in a high school football game, his best friend Pedro's (Efren Ramirez) campaign for class president against alpha girl Summer (Haylie Duff), and what happens when his older brother's online girlfriend shows up.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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 keep us laughing with Napoleon, not at him. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adolescence in different times and places. How is life for the teens in the movie like or not like your own experiences of adolescence?

  • Why do you think Napoleon Dynamite caught on so well even though it's so quirky?

  • If you've seen the animated series of Napoleon Dynamite, how do you think it compares with the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 2004
DVD release date:December 21, 2004
Cast:Efren Ramirez, John Gries, Jon Heder
Director:Jared Hess
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements and language

This review of Napoleon Dynamite was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byJazzyB12345 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

BEST MOVIE AWARD!

this waz an awsome movie ! this is a family movie i think this should be 8+
Kid, 9 years old August 8, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Be Careful But Watch It!

I LOVE THIS MOVIE! But some of it could be hard for kids under age 8; my brother kept asking me what the heck was going on; and lots of the word 'idiot' but otherwise AWESOME!
Teen, 15 years old Written byP dump April 14, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Fun, the more I watch it, the more I like it.

That being said, I watched the movie 4 times in theater, and over 20 times total. Don't blame ya if you think its stupid. It is. But it's just as funny. No cussing, lots of "flips", "dangs", and the like.

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