Box art for Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite

comedy, drama

From the rural town of Preston, Idaho, comes Napoleon Dynamite. With a red 'fro, his moon boots, and illegal government ninja moves, he is a new kind of hero.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 11
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
2 out of 5

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.

what families can talk about

  • 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?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 29
    see all Napoleon Dynamite reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Napoleon Dynamite may be forcefully weird and intermittently humorous, and you might not know what the heck to make of it, but there's nothing shocking about its screenplay.

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fresh: Has more belly laughs than 10 studio-produced, star-vehicle comedies.

- Bill Muller, Arizona Republic, Thursday, July 1, 2004

Rotten: There's no cohesive story, just a series of opportunities for the title character to strut his gawky stuff.

- Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, June 18, 2004

Audience Reviews

3 stars

There are lots of very funny moments, and in contrast there are many moments you wished you had known about just so you could sit through them and keep your eyes closed. "Gosh!"

- rezpatriot, Friday, July 30, 2010

3 stars


- bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb1, Wednesday, July 21, 2010

4 stars

"He's out to prove he's got nothing to prove." 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. REVIEW Hysterically funny high school comedy about the eponymous delusional nerd (Heder who comes across as the bastard son of Will Ferrell and Jerry Seinfeld) and his misadventures with his wimpy older brother Kip(Ruell), creepily living in 1982 state-of-mind Uncle Rico (Gries) with his hare-brained get-rich quick schemes, extreme living grandma (Martin) and his misfit buddies, the quiet sad-eyed Pedro (Ramirez) and photobug pony tailed girlfriend material Deb (Majorino) set in the endless plains of Preston, Idaho. Facing the daily hell of high school Napoleon daydreams and uses his creative 'skills' to full tilt despite the ridiculous odds stacked against his better judgment. Uproariously funny with some unique production design, costumes and hair-styles makes this microcosm of middle-America come to life with biting wit and style to filmmaker Jared Hess who co-scripted with his wife Jerusha echoes the likes of 'Election', 'Rushmore' and 'Welcome to the Dollhouse' yet is unique in that it allows its characters to boldly accept themselves for what they are and damn anyone who doesn't get it. Heder is a true comic fine in his weird vocal deliveries and ejaculations of 'Idiot!', 'Sweet!' and 'Dang!' and has a time-capsule moment at the film's climax involving the student council election; 'nuff said. A real sleeper comic ode to the dork in all of us.

- mrpopcorn, Tuesday, March 2, 2010