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Napoleon Dynamite Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Filmmaker Jared Hess (who cowrote the script with his wife, Jerusha Hess) installs Napoleon front and center as a punchline in and of himself -- and as that dispiriting product of narrative defeat, a symbol.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    A one-note, lightweight, condescending comedy about the rubes of Idaho.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    There isn't much Napoleonic grandeur in this Idaho-set high school comedy, which in spite of its most condescending instincts, does have its moments.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    More than a deadpan comedy about oddball losers. This dork has his day, and this story has its touching subtext -- growing pains relieved by unlikely hope.

  • See all Napoleon Dynamite reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

One-of-a-kind high school comedy for the family.

What 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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    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.

  • rolemodels true2

    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.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    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 false1

    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 false0

    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 false1

    Consumerism: Dodge van, Tater Tots, Gossner Milk.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable