Thursday, January 22, 2015
I don't watch many movies but like you, I have my favorites. I can't really tell you the qualifications for making my list- I just know it's good when I see it. The following, from March 29, 2006, is about the film that cracks me up every time!
I'm convinced most adults could not identify Napoleon Dynamite. As a matter of fact, I heard about him by coincidence a year ago Christmas while preaching a wedding. We (the groom, groomsmen, and me) were waiting for our cue during rehearsal. The kids started talking about this movie I had never heard of like it was the funniest film of all time. I rarely go to movies and find few decent rentals so my interest was piqued. Not long into the New Year, I rented it. At first, my impression was that it was the stupidest movie ever. But as it sunk in, I changed my mind and it ranked as one of the funniest movies I've watched. Costing only $400,000 to produce, Napoleon Dynamite became a cult classic, raking in in excess of $40,000,000. The story centers on Napoleon, a high school student in Preston, Idaho, an actual town where the movie was filmed. Napoleon is the classic geek taken to the extreme. The film depicts a misfit and friends navigating the teenage world, conquering at the conclusion. Reviewers adore it or despise it with absence of middle ground. It is very clean, reflecting the Mormon culture of both the director/writer and the star. What began as a short film for a college class became a sleeper hit. Napoleon Dynamite gear- t shirts, notebooks, etc-are found in America's schools as a tribute to a kid with his own unique language. (For $6.95, you can purchase the Napoleon Dynamite Talking Doll, with seven quotes from the movie!)
There was a biographical article in this past weekend's PARADE Magazine. The section featured Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite in the movie. I found several interesting items about the actor. First, he was roughly twenty-five years old when he played the only high school student I know who stored Tater Tots in his pants for snacks. I found out he spent two years as a missionary in Japan and speaks the language. I discovered that when his movie played at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, he was so lacking in funds that his wife was barely able to make the trip. (For his part in this blockbuster, Heder was paid a whopping $1,000!) Jon Heder comes off as an unassuming celebrity not ruined by fame. I was most intrigued by something that was not part of the article. What stunned me was when I saw his picture, I did not recognize him. In no way did he resemble the person I watched on my television screen by way of DVD player. The guy in the movie was gangly, bespectacled, socially awkward, with a bushy brown semi-Afro. The person in PARADE was blonde, glasses-free, and sophisticated. I don't know if I have ever seen as much of a transformation from real life to reel life, from everyday appearance to costumed. I had made an assumption that whoever played Napoleon Dynamite must be like him in reality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People fool us all the time. They appear to be one thing when in actuality, they are a completely unrelated character. The majority of us do the same. One constant I see with many students is their belief no one could possibly like them if they could see their true identity. I have students who are charming in one-on-one settings but in front of their peers, they mutate into someone almost unrecognizable and not nearly as charming. Adults are not much different. We tend to take on a different persona depending on the group we are associating with. The apostle Paul said he became "all things to all men" but he was speaking of evangelistic effectiveness, not personality inconsistency. My favorite kids in are the ones who are the same, day in and day out. I wish I was the same, day in and day out. Napoleon was a stereotypical nerd...but he didn't change from hour to hour, week to week AND, he was the hero in the end. There is a lesson in there for well-adjusted adults.
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 8:55 PM