Every generation has their cult film. Actually, it’s every mini-generation; I would say that in recent times, cult classics have been every five years. For me, the first one was The Princess Bride. For my sister, just five years my senior, it was the Breakfast Club. Then Clerks defined college for me; for my sister, Raising Arizona. There are semi-serious movies like this as well (Legend, The Big Chill), but I’m talking about the stupid movies. It is almost necessary that the film be grossly underbudget; bad acting, usually a damning factor, can be forgiven and can even be welcome. The latest of these filmes blancs was Napoleon Dynamite.
When I heard about this movie, I didn’t want to see it at all. I am tired of the Deuce Bigalow comedy with far too many crude jokes and this looked to be more of the same, done with That Seventies Show flair. The guys in the lab where I worked were quoting it all day and the quotes didn’t even sound funny. “Tina, eat your dumb dinner?” Sounds stupid.
I watched it, and wow. What a stupid movie. I kept thinking I could not bear to keep watching it. Carlton paused the movie so he could pour us some beers to power through the movie.
Then something odd happened. We weren’t laughing out loud, but we were amused.
I still thought I hated it, but when I went to work the next day, I realized I kept quoting it and laughing. Something about Napoleon’s dumb Butt-Headesque voice made him fun to imitate.
OK, that was all a year ago. Carlton decided that, since this is a cult film, we should watch it again. I realized I was actually looking forward to seeing some of the scenes again. Homebrews were poured and we settled in to watch. We laughed out loud. The performances of the actors were brilliantly moronic. Each character lives in his/her own reality cloud of confidence and false bravado. Napoleon is beat up and then defiantly kicks the locker to assert himself (after the bullies are long gone, of course).
This is not a movie to be taken seriously, or for one to devote all of one’s attention to it. But if you want to remember why high school was fun and awful, pour a brew and laugh at something stupid. WARNING: if you like highbrow movies, don’t blame me if you watch this.