“If you two don’t give a crap about our friendship, I’ll just have to give enough crap for the three of us.” (Napoleon Dynamite on TV)


Before I review this show, I have to tell you a bit about my history with the character and the movies.

Once, long ago, Lady Steed and I checked out a Final Cut VHS tape from the Orem Public Library that featured the BYU student film, Peluca, that later appeared at Slamdance and from which we can draw a direct line to Napoleon Dynamite. Same character (though he was named Seth at the time) and some of the same brilliant moments later colorized for the film-film.

We and our friends the Dugans used to show Peluca to people just to see how they would react. Us, we loved it devotedly. We watched it dozens of times. And showing it to someone new was a pretty foolproof way to predict the future of our friendship.



Napoleon Dynamite premiered at Sundance just after the birth of our first child so, even though we were in Utah and had attended Sundance the year before, we did not even bother looking at the listings. When Napoleon became the breakout hit I was heartbroken that we had missed it and would not be able to see it until wide release.

The day of wide release, we took the baby and went to the first Provo show.

And from the opening second when Jon Heder stares out and sighs, I began laughing. I’ve been laughing ever since. We saw it in theaters I think eight times. I’m relatively certain our son will never see any other movie more times in theaters than he saw Napoleon the first year of his life.

For the record, it was also the first thing we let him watch on a tv screen. It was his favorite movie as a toddler and among his first words are Napoleon quotes.

On to the tv show.

Continue reading ““If you two don’t give a crap about our friendship, I’ll just have to give enough crap for the three of us.” (Napoleon Dynamite on TV)”

Weekend (Re)Visitor: Gentlemen Broncos

In the early days of AMV, I wrote briefly about the limitations of urban(e) critics who were trying to review Napoleon Dynamite and failing to get their minds around what Jared and Jerusha Hess were doing. I never reported back on that, but after watching the film several years later, I discovered that, yes, I was right to point out those limitations. And yet I didn’t seem to learn from that vindication and develop faith in my co-religionists because when Gentlemen Broncos ( Amazon ) was absolutely savaged by the critics I believed them.

Then earlier this year I ran across (and mentioned in a links roundup post) this brief Richard Brody review of the film for The New Yorker. Here was an urban(e) critic who made me rethink my earlier impressions — enough so that last week my wife and I watched Gentlemen Broncos. Brody writes, “…. it’s a work of visionary inspiration that, like many outrageous Hollywood comedies of the classic era (such as those of Frank Tashlin), tackles remarkably serious matters.”

It turns out that he’s right. What I’m less sure about is where he tries to give a Mormon gloss on the film: “In his jejune yet highly moral inspiration, Benjamin is the prophet of a pop-infused Gospel, an updated Book of Mormon, that speaks to a new generation of young people whose coarsened sensibility is paradoxically attuned to Biblical explicitness and ferocity.” Continue reading “Weekend (Re)Visitor: Gentlemen Broncos”