Napoleon Dynamite

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Napoleon Dynamite ★★ 2004 (PG)

Filmed in Preston, Idaho, the debut of director Hess (co-written by his wife) is a small-budget, small-scale, overreaching effort about the unfortunately named title character (Heder), an awkward, frizzy-haired, high school ubernerd whose life is one exasperation after another. He's beaten up by the jocks, can't score with the babes, and his only friend is a shy Mexican immigrant, Pedro (Ramirez), whom Napoleon assists in his campaign for class president against popular blonde goddess, Summer (Duff, Hilary's sister). His much-older brother Kip (Ruell) is even more of a misfit and his creepily macho Uncle Rico (Gries) is looking after the family since Grandma (Martin) had an ATV-riding accident. You should want to root for the underdog but you may become just as exasperated as Napoleon watching this flick. 86m/C VHS, DVD, UMD . Jon(athan) Gries, Tina Majorino, Diedrich Bader, Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Haylie Duff, Trevor Snarr, Shondrella Avery; D: Jared Hess; W: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess; C: Munn Powell; M: John Swihart.