Napoleon Dynamite Movie Poster Image

Napoleon Dynamite

One-of-a-kind high school comedy for the family.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

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. Themes include compassion and empathy.

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.


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.



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.



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."



Dodge van, Tater Tots, Gossner Milk.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while Napoleon Dynamite 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.

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?


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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adolescence in different times and places. How is life for the teens in Napoleon Dynamite  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?

  • How do the characters in Napoleon Dynamite demonstrate compassion and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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

This review of Napoleon Dynamite was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byJazzyB12345 April 9, 2008


this waz an awsome movie ! this is a family movie i think this should be 8+
Teen, 15 years old Written byP dump April 14, 2010

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.
Kid, 9 years old August 8, 2009

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!