Rolling Stone - 06/24/2004
"Hess and his terrific cast -- Heder is geek perfection -- make their own kind of deadpan hilarity. You'll laugh till it hurts. Sweet."
New York Times - 06/11/2004
"[O]dd, amusing....[Hess's] filmmaking style is well suited to the rhythms of small-town Western life."
USA Today - 08/20/2004
"The Hesses, who are only in their mid-20s, know how to set up gags and even capitalize on them."
Uncut - 01/01/2005
"[T]here's much that delights in this low-budget whimsical film..."
Sight and Sound - 01/01/2005
"[T]he quiet determination with which this oddball trio navigate the pressures of adolescence provide the film' most affecting moments..."
Jared Hess makes an unforgettable directorial debut with NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, a hilarious, tender, and utterly original portrait of a truly eccentric character. Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) is a high-school outcast in every sense of the word. More interested in playing tetherball by himself and drawing pictures of his favorite animal, the "liger" (a combination of a lion and a tiger), Napoleon is ignored by everyone in his tiny hometown of Preston, Idaho. At home, things aren't much better: his uber-nerd older brother, Kip (Aaron Ruell), and ultra-vain Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) are too busy with their own obsessions to give Napoleon the time of day. It isn't until a new student, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), arrives that Napoleon finds friendship and performs an act of brave defiance that makes him a true hero.
Written by Hess and his wife, Jerusha, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE brilliantly captures the awkwardness of high school without succumbing to condescension. Most of this can be attributed to Heder, who steps into Napoleon's moon boots with a jaw-dropping flawlessness. The rest of the cast is just as natural, underplaying their roles and letting the comedy unfold without forcing any of the jokes. Add a hilarious soundtrack of 1980s hits and you have an instant classic, a crowd-pleasing riot that has an undeniably universal appeal.