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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

PG | | Comedy | 27 August 2004 (USA)
1:15 | Trailer

In Theaters Now

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.


Jared Hess
1,289 ( 241)
10 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jon Heder ... Napoleon Dynamite
Jon Gries ... Uncle Rico
Aaron Ruell ... Kip
Efren Ramirez ... Pedro
Diedrich Bader ... Rex
Tina Majorino ... Deb
Sandy Martin ... Grandma
Haylie Duff ... Summer Wheatly
Trevor Snarr Trevor Snarr ... Don
Shondrella Avery ... Lafawnduh
Bracken Johnson Bracken Johnson ... Randy
Carmen Brady Carmen Brady ... Starla
Ellen Dubin ... Ilene
J.C. Cunningham J.C. Cunningham ... Jock #1
Jimmy Stevens Jimmy Stevens ... Jock #2 (as James Smooth)
Learn more

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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


It's Gonna Be a Dynamite Summer See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Napoleon dances to Canned Heat by Jamiroquai See more »


When Lyle is just about to shoot the cow and the school bus moves in front, there are no kids in the bus. But in the next shot, there are. 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 »

Alternate Versions

For wide release and all showings after the limited release, a scene was filmed featuring an additional five-minutes after the credits. See more »


Referenced in Flip This House: Too Good to Be True (2005) See more »


Forever Young
Written by Marian Gold, Bernhard Lloyd, and Frank Mertens
Performed by Alphaville
Courtesy of Warner Music Germany GmbH
By Arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing
See more »

User Reviews

He's neither – but he's still a brilliant creation
20 July 2004 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

Jared Hess's first film is more clever than it is funny, but it could grow on you, and it'll have a chance to if it gains cult status. Napoleon is a new idea: a nerd with confidence. It helps that the actor, Jon Heder, despite style-blind clothing and Seventies eyeglasses, is tall and thin and pretty muscular. He moves with such long-legged nerdy swaggering authority that when school bullies bash him into his locker you wonder how they manage it. Napoleon's final triumph may not be believable, but he's an excellent physical comic and when he does his fast dancing it's as awesome as it is silly.

Other characters in the film -- Napoleon's uncle Rio (Jon Gries), a sleazy ne'er-do-well who wishes he could go back to 1982 when he believes his high school football team would have won the championship if they'd put him in the game; the older brother, Kip (Afron Ruell), who hooks up with a black babe named LaFawnDa (Shondrella Avery) via Internet – are creations as sharp and clear as Napoleon. This movie knows where it's going from the first frame. Like Napoleon, it's confident in its nerdiness. In a way, nerdiness isn't even an issue: Napoleon isn't going to change and doesn't want to.

The humor is deadpan; hence the success of conversations between Napoleon and his new Mexican friend Pedro Sanchez (Efren Ramirez), when both stand facing forward exchanging monosyllables.

Napoleon owns power because of his height and agility, but also because of the way he can use buzz words like 'sweet,' 'gross,' and 'idiot' as forcefully as anybody else. What's nerdy about him? He's nowhere, man. He's an out-there geek. His eyes, half hidden behind those big glasses, look blankly into space as he speaks. When have darty unseeing eyes in a movie character been so memorable? He has contempt for the world he inhabits, a rural Midwestern place so remote it doesn't have a big box store, but he inhabits this world and isn't about to leave it.

Because he's not really all that vulnerable, Napoleon Dynamite nurses no lasting resentments, so there can be no revenge or retribution or downfall, and the movie doesn't 'build.' The succession of skits that comprise much of the film often end unfinished, thus giving a hip postmodern illogic to the story that may make this a favorite for young people – that is, twenty-somethings – in months and years to come.

Napoleon Dynamite isn't 'about' anything and doesn't have much of a plot, but it deals with such themes as sexual frustration, get-rich salesman scams (which is where Uncle Rio comes in), and high school popularity contests (the alpha girl, Summer, played by Haylie Duff, vs. Pedro for class president).

The charm of Napoleon Dynamite also lies in the fact that it just focuses on the characters (the actors) and the short skits and doesn't try too hard. Less is more. There is a Zen consciousness at work here in the way each silly, daily detail is lovingly, patiently looked at and passed on. The unexamined life is not worth living: hence could it not be that the silliest, dorkiest life, lovingly examined, is meaningful and potentially hilarious? This is a winner, not a forgettable summer movie. It must be left to future scholars to analyze fully its myriad details.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

27 August 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Napoleon Dynamite See more »

Filming Locations:

Sykesville, Pennsylvania, USA See more »


Box Office


$400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,666, 13 June 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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