Napoleon Dynamite (2004) Poster


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Jon Heder was paid $1,000 to play Napoleon Dynamite. The movie grossed over $40,000,000 in the United States.
Both Jon Heder (Napoleon) and Efren Ramirez (Pedro), who play the lead characters in the movie, have an identical twin in real life.
Jon Heder drew all of the "drawings" in the movie except the unicorn.
Features one of the longest credited cast lists in movie history; all 181 student extras' names are listed in the closing credits.
Shot in 22 days.
A "Napoleon Dynamite" festival was held every year from 2004-08 in Preston, Idaho, the city where the movie was filmed. The festival had contests that included a tater-tot eating, football-throwing, look-a-likes and other types of competition based on scenes from the movie.
The scene of the farmer shooting the cow in front of the school bus full of children is a true anecdote from the director's childhood.
Jon Heder permed his hair for the film.
Jon Heder's big dance scene was the last scene scheduled and film ran out while shooting it. The sequence was edited together from less than 10 minutes of his dancing.
Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) is actually a vegetarian; every time he was eating steak and wiped his mouth he was spitting the meat into the napkin.
Despite playing high-school students, Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez were, respectively, 27 and 31 when this movie was made.
Aaron Ruell (Kip) had braces put on his teeth for this role (two dentists are thanked in the credits).
Uncle Rico's girlfriend who rides up to him on her bicycle at the end of the film, is Aaron Ruell's wife.
In real life, the llama belongs to director/co-writer Jared Hess's mother, and its name is Dolly.
Jon Heder helped to make the boondoggle keychains between scenes.
When Kip is on the computer near the beginning of the film, all of the words he is saying were improvised by Aaron Ruell. If listened to closely, one can hear him singing a little bit right as Grandma comes in.
Idaho unanimously passed a bill praising Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess for making the film, citing amongst their reasons that the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention. Tater tots figuring prominently in the film has promoted Idaho's most famous export.
For Napoleon's dance routine, director Jared Hess had Jon Heder improvise and dance to three different songs. Hess then took the "best" moves from each song and put them in one routine, using one song.
Every dish shown during the opening credits is eaten by a character later in the movie. The dishes presented in the opening credits were the work of the three people who present them.
The movie was edited in producer Jeremy Coon's apartment using a $6,000 Macintosh with Final Cut Pro.
The scene where Uncle Rico hits Napoleon in the face took four takes.
The film is based on a short film Jared Hess made in 2002 with Jon Heder. Almost everything from the short made it into the feature film. For instance, there is a scene in the feature film where Napoleon and Pedro are at a state fair appraising cows or tasting milk. In the short, there is only a line of spoken dialog that mentions the taste-testing of milk.
The opening title sequence was partially re shot due to some of the executives at Fox Searchlight not liking the look of the actors hands who place the food into the shot. They flew out a "hand model" to re shoot some of the shots with the director.
The name "Napoleon Dynamite" is a pseudonym used by Elvis Costello for his 1986 album, "Blood and Chocolate". Executive producer Jeremy Coon has stated that the similarity is a coincidence and that the producers were unaware of Costello's usage of the name until the film was in production.
Deb's photo studio is actually the basement of the interior version of Napoleon Dynamite's house.
In a deleted scene, it is shown that Napoleon gets a scratch ticket and won $10, which originally was shown in Peluca (2003). That was what made it so he could afford the $12 suit for the dance and not even the price was implied in the movie.
Jon Heder credits Tina Majorino (Deb) with helping to choreograph the dance scene. He also states that some of the dance moves were "borrowed" from Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, John Travolta, Soul Train (1971), as well as some of his own moves.
Jack Black almost played Rex. He would later star in Jared Hess's next film, Nacho Libre (2006).
The "liger" is a real animal, created when a male lion mates with a female tiger. It does not, however, have "skills in magic", as Napoleon claims.
At the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, Jon Heder reprised his role as Napoleon during the parody of Batman Begins (2005).
None of the main characters wear shoes or boots with laces.
Two houses were used for the filming of Napoleon's house: one for outdoor shots, and one for indoor shots.
Behind-the-scenes at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight engaged in a bidding war with Warner Independent Pictures over the distribution rights to this movie, until Fox Searchlight put in a last-minute bid of over $3 million, and won. They would later join forces with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films to distribute the film, a mere 17 days before its release.
In 2007 a video game based off of the movie was released for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable consoles.
In the second cafeteria scene, when Napoleon and Pedro discuss prospective dance dates, Napolean is wearing a Ricks College t-shirt. Ricks College was a junior college in Idaho that maintained close association with Brigham Young University up until 2000, when Ricks was formally named an official satellite of BYU, henceforth BYU-Idaho. Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess, the film's co-writers, both attended BYU.
In Rex's "dojo" near the beginning of the movie, the words "I shall respect Rex, I shall never misuse Rex-Kwon-Do, I shall be a champion of Freedom and Justice" are seen above the large mirror Rex stands in front of.
The odd items and foods used in the opening credits:
  • A plate of tater tots

  • A plate with a burrito and rice

  • A plate with sliced hard-boiled eggs

  • A "U.F.O. Abduction Insurance" card

  • A Preston High student ID card

  • A plate with a steak (au jus)

  • A plate of nachos

  • A foil tray with a corn dog, peach slices and peas

  • A banana and peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a paper bag

  • A homemade foil-covered ninja star

  • The checkout card for a library book titled "Bigfoot and Me"

  • The checkout card for a library book titled "Science and Centaurs"

  • The carton for a LemonHeads-like candy

  • A tube of Chap Stick

  • A drawing of a warrior holding a flag

  • A drawing of a female centaur fighting an eagle

  • A binder pocket containing 3 toy cars and a drawing of a spaceship

  • A protractor, eraser and three pencils

  • A plate with a burger and fries

Having the food plates spell out names in the opening credits was Aaron Ruell's idea. The rest of the sequence was designed and executed by Pablo Ferro.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Due to the film's surprise success at festivals and in its limited release, Fox Searchlight re-edited the film to add a 5-minute epilogue at the end. This epilogue, which was filmed after the initial theatrical run, features a surprise "wedding scene", which cost about half of what the entire feature cost to make.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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