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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  27 August 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 153,495 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 1,451 user | 219 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.


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10 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bracken Johnson ...
Carmen Brady ...
J.C. Cunningham ...
Jock #1
Jimmy Stevens ...
Jock #2 (as James Smooth)


Preston, Idaho's most curious resident, Napoleon Dynamite, lives with his grandma and his 32-year-old brother (who cruises chat rooms for ladies) and works to help his best friend, Pedro, snatch the Student Body President title from mean teen Summer Wheatley. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Same planet...different flippin' world. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 August 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bus otoko  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$116,666 (USA) (11 June 2004)


$44,540,956 (USA) (4 February 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jack Black almost played Rex. He would later star in Jared Hess's next film, Nacho Libre (2006). See more »


When Napoleon is watching Lyle shoot the cow and the bus drives in between them, the camera, tripod, and several members of the crew can be seen reflected in the glass on the bus door. See more »


[first lines]
Kid on Bus: What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?
Napoleon Dynamite: Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are made entirely of various items such as plates of food, a notebook, pencils, and a roll of chapstick. See more »


Referenced in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (2007) See more »


Music for a Found Harmonium
Written by Simon Jeffes (as Simon Harry Jeffes)
Performed by Patrick Street (miscredited by production as Penguin Café Orchestra)
Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd.
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Funny and unique!
30 December 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) is the typical sad-sack, luckless loser that has permeated high schools for seemingly centuries. He has no friends, he's picked on by bullies, he has a somewhat-odd home life ... but through it all, he's sure things will be just plain okay in the end.

Napoleon and his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) live with their grandmother, but at the beginning of the film she tells them she needs to take off for a couple days. Enter their Uncle Rico (Jon Gries), a self-starter who's living in 1982 (when the coach of his high school football team declined to put him in as quarterback, thus altering Rico's life forever). Some of the funniest scenes in the film involve Napoleon's often-combative relationship with Uncle Rico; Rico is also bound and determined to return to those halcyon days of his youth via a time machine he's seen advertised on the Internet, and he enlists Kip to help him raise the funds.

Napoleon befriends the new kid in school, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), who has a sweet bike, can talk to girls, and has an actual mustache. But like Napoleon, Pedro is a misfit. Both sometimes hang out with yet another taciturn student, Deb (Tina Majorino, all grown up from Waterworld), who secretly (it seems) likes Napoleon. But there isn't a lot of focus on their relationship, because Napoleon himself is fairly oblivious to how people perceive him. This isn't a story about young love or lust, it's a story about a misfit refusing to fit - while fitting in with others like him.

Jon Heder is perfectly cast as the gawky, dorky Napoleon; he resembles Butt-Head in countenance, although certainly not in temperament or intelligence. Mouth agape and with an awkward gait, Napoleon is about as odd a duck as you'd find in high school, and yet he still manages to survive with his dignity intact. He's a good egg, although he seems to overreact at times: "What are you gonna do today, Napoleon? Napoleon: Whatever I feel like I wanna do.....GOSH!" Still, his delivery is perfect. You can readily picture a Napoleon in any high school.

I think where the film ultimately succeeds, aside from the casting of Heder, is that it doesn't fall into the traps of predictability and stereotyping. Sure, it's a high school movie, and there are snobby pretty girls and arrogant jocks, but not much time is devoted to them. Sure, there's a big dance, but it doesn't necessarily turn out the way you'd expect it to. What you're left with, then, isn't a typical coming-of-age story, but rather a unique take on a rather mundane - albeit life-altering - time in a boy's life.

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