25 June 2004

Saw "Napoleon Dynamite," Went For a Swim...

I went to see the 4:15 show at Lincoln Sq. today- Napoleon Dynamite, the debut film from one Mr. Jered Hess.

This was a very strange movie- at first glance one might assume I'm referring to the content of the film, which I'm not. What makes the film so weird is how hard it is to peg it.

Jon Heder plays Napoleon, a high school aged kid in Idaho. Everyone who's ever been to school knew a kid like Napoleon- strange, geeky, into very specific things and very maniacally. Of course, Napoleon is that very specific strain of high school geek- the semi-self confident, sort of asshole one that gets angry at his lot but does little about it.

Dynamite is equal parts Wes Anderson, American Movie, David Lynch and Welcome to the Dollhouse. It was damn funny in parts, and damned perfect in many scenes as well- so much of the credibility of the film rides on it's ability to achieve authenticity to what is "geek." Whether you were/ are or not, everyone can relate to what constitutes geek-dom. Much of it becomes esoteric and acknowledged- the credits sequence is note-perfect geek fare.

Unfortunately, unlike Wes Anderson's work, a lot of Dynamite slips from sharp characterization to lazy caricature. Uncle Rico, for instance, is funny, but when he makes his little football throwing in polyestertapes- the humor becomes less observed and more laboring for a laugh. As is the case routinely throughout the movie though, Heder's Napoleon saves the scene. "I would say this is probably the worst tape ever made." Perfect.

Basically, watching the movie was like watching one of your friends delicately tip toe across the top of a chain link fence. They're doing it- it looks amazing, and you're totally impressed... until they slip and slam their balls into the railing and you wish they'd kept it up- for both of your sakes. But then- whoa! He gets back up! You get the idea.

If this film were not so well crafted in parts, it probably slides by on the whole as light-hearted fare. But there are scenes so sharply in tune with what we all know Napoleon to be that any drop from that high is disappointing. Napoleon as a character is near flawless. His brother Kip, played by Aaron Ruell, while funny often- is also parodic nearly as often.

All this said- I really enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite. Definitely more than a little scene setting theft from The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, but a quirky, fun movie in its own right. Also- a Tina Majorino spotting, she of Corrina, Corrina and Waterworld. She was a little kid actor, now she's not. I just eat picking stuff like that up with a spoon.

So after the movie, which I got out of at 6, I decided to make some haste home in order to see the start of the Sox/ Phils game. Since I had to go the Lincoln Sq. theatre, I was on the opposite side of Manhattan from my abode, so it required my walking 12 blocks north to 81st and Columbus, and getting in the M79 bus across town. Fine.

Except that when I stepped out of said theatre, I had Old Testament rain pouring on my head for 12 blocks. To say I was soaked is a very, very grave disservice to what happened to me. I was no less wet than if I had gone for a swim in a pool with my clothes on. It was a warm night, and so once it happened and there was no avoiding it- it was fine. It was actually really refreshing.

What SUCKED was when I got on the bus. Pumping bone-chilling AC through it's vents, soaked in rain, I was chattering my teeth all the way home and actually convinced that I'd be able to see my breath. I couldn't- but only barely. I did get home in time to see the game though. It was worth it, too.

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