Pin It
Favorite

Napoleon Dynamite 

Fine, buy why now?

click to enlarge art17420.jpg

"Everyone knows there’s only two important factors in compatibility,” says Napoleon Dynamite to his friends, Deb and Pedro: “What’s your favorite kind of hawk, and how many do you own?” Napoleon (John Heder) and his non-existent upper lip are back from the indie phenomenon that created a lexicon with words like “liger,” “LaFawnduh, “gosh,” “luckyyyy” and “idiot!” Heck yes, and within the first five minutes of his new animated series, the moonboot-wearing teenage pariah is already spawning new buzz words (“you do, you die!”).

Amazingly, the entire cast of the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite reprises their original characters. The magic, no doubt, would fizzle if unknowns voiced Napoleon’s unruffled sidekick, Pedro, or Napoleon’s older brother, Kip — the soft-spoken, spindly grandma’s boy.

It’s nice that Jared and Jerusha Hess, the couple who co-wrote and directed the film, are executive producers/writers for the FOX series. Former Simpsons show runner Mike Scully, accused by some fans of making The Simpsons suck from 1997 to 2001, is also on board. So there’s that.

Whether Dynamite’s innocent, geeky humor gets bullied beyond recognition in the reformation to rapid-fire cartoon banter (see: Family Guy) is the question. Unlike the movie — which featured sleepy, pensive pauses and awkward moments in the bumpkin-ish milieu of southeastern Idaho — the TV version can’t rely on extended scenes of Napoleon’s Happy Hands sign language club performing to a Bette Midler song.

Heder touched on this during a Good Day LA interview, in which he pointed out, “We actually have jokes … it’s gonna be a weird hybrid.”

On one hand, the revival of Napoleon’s idiosyncratic mannerisms (his fantastically absurd run, his fetish for ninja weaponry) is gratifying and nostalgic. But the movie was a funny kind of nerdy: Rex Kwon Do’s American flag karate pants, feeding casserole to a llama, etc.

Sometimes, the animated series is just nerdy without being funny.

This makes Dynamite feel like the goofy stepchild in FOX’s animation lineup.

In all, if the producers can strike a clever balance between old and new — something only barely achieved in the first two episodes — then I’m willing to give our hero one more chance as he tells Deb, “Better hang on. This is gonna be awesome.”

Napoleon Dynamite (Sundays, 8:30 pm, FOX)

TIVO-WORTHY

An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List
Creator Ricky Gervais calls this jetsetting romp his “grand experiment.” His chum, reluctant globetrotter Karl Pilkington, calls it “a torture session.” They must be doing something right: Gervais’s brainchild is the Science Channel’s highestrated series, ever. The second season of Idiot is like the Bucket List movie with Morgan Freeman, but better, because it’s British. (Premieres Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10 pm on Science)

Touch
Considering his new role as the emotionally vulnerable, single father of a misdiagnosed autistic boy whose mathematical genius enables him to predict the future, you could say this is Sutherland’s mid-life crisis show. Filming for 24, the movie, doesn’t start until later this year. (Premieres Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 9 pm on FOX)

Inside Comedy
Love Spaceballs and The Three Amigos? This episodic documentary spotlights seasoned comedians including Martin Short, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal and Mel Brooks. Produced by Steve Carrell (The Office), it’s like the orgy lovechild of funny people. (Thursdays, 11 pm, Showtime)

Tags: , ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Tv, television

Latest in Film

  • Real Disaster
  • Real Disaster

    Deepwater Horizon feels trapped between tragic facts and genre conventions
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • The Kids Aren't Alright
  • The Kids Aren't Alright

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children can't quite strike the balance between whimsy and darkness
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Enemy No. 1
  • Enemy No. 1

    Oliver Stone's Snowden doesn't break new ground but is still a thrill ride
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
David Liebe Hart music/puppets/video show

David Liebe Hart music/puppets/video show @ The Big Dipper

Fri., Sept. 30, 7:30-11 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Blair Tellers

  • Hollowed Out
  • Hollowed Out

    Exploring the roots of our pumpkin-carving obsession
    • Oct 23, 2012
  • The River
  • The River

    River creator Oren Peli compares his horror formula to getting a cavity filled.
    • Feb 15, 2012
  • Whitney
  • Whitney

    Like Dane Cook with lady parts
    • Jan 4, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Art of the Deal

    Local indie labels offer artists another marketing option, but not everyone is convinced they're necessary
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation