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Old June 21st, 2024, 08:47 PM   #20571
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Knox Goes Away

Let me start the review of this movie by talking about a completely different one, Baby Driver. That's a movie I've wanted to watch for a very long time. I like Edgar Wright, the stuff I read about the movie over the years got me hyped, a very stacked cast, what can go wrong? Kevin Spacey, that's what went wrong. I have not gotten over the hurdle of putting aside his shit to watch a movie I think I will enjoy. One thing about Baby Driver is that it came out before the Spacey stuff came to light. I had several months to watch that movie before learning Spacey was a terrible person and I missed that window. So what does this have to do with Knox Goes Away? Well, I could've had a similar sentiment to this movie based on the fact that it co-stars James Marsden. Earlier this year, the bombshell documentary series Quiet On Set revealed a lot of things about the shady and disgusting underbelly of the Dan Schneider Era Nickelodeon series. Somewhat surprisingly, the most vile things the series revealed aren't attributed to Schneider, but to Brian Peck. Cutting to the chase, James Marsden was one of numerous Hollywood names who wrote a letter of support for Peck. That really disappointed me as I quite like the guy, though I had only seen him in the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. I'm branching out with this movie and I plan to watch several X-Men movies to get ready for Deadpool 3. Oh, and I watched him in Anchorman 2, but I don't remember the movie too well. I want to believe that Marsden regrets supporting Peck, I haven't seen any interview where he was asked about it, yet some people who wrote letters of support have since come out and backtracked. I don't know why Marsden hasn't done that. With the third Sonic movie coming at the end of the year, a major press run will likely lead to more substantial interviews with him and I hope someone asks him about it. However, interviewers could be prohibited from asking about it. I don't know how much involvement he will have in the 3rd Sonic movie. His screen time in the 2nd movie was shorter than the 1st movie. Anyway, I ultimately added this movie to my queue, willing to give it a chance since it stars an absolute legend, Michael Keaton. Oh, and he directed it! Also, to be fair, what Marsden did around 20 years ago is nothing compared to what Spacey did, so I can more easily look past it. Separating the art from the artist is just something I can't do for everyone.

The movie's about a hitman named John Knox (Michael Keaton). He was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is basically faster Alzheimers. Shortly after the diagnosis, he botched a job that resulted in the death of multiple people, when he was supposed to kill just one. Right after that, he got a visit from his estranged son, Miles (James Marsden), who also fucked up. I won't go into detail about what mistake Miles made, but the fact he went to his father for help indicates what kind of mistake he made. Knox tries to fix everything for his son while also getting his affairs in order. You also have police doing their thing, which frankly, I didn't want to see. It was necessary, so I had to let it slide.

While I did say that James Marsden's involvement made me iffy about watching the movie, I had some reservations about the movie. As the movie started, it seemed like those reservations were justified. It had a somewhat low-budget vibe, and with the quality of actors involved combined with the story, I thought of the movie as a direct-to-HBO kind of thing. I suppose direct-to-TV and direct-to-video would also apply to this, but I thought of HBO first. Direct-to-streaming would work too. Basically, this isn't a movie that would make any waves in the theaters, no truly bankable names (which isn't a knock on the actors), a story that is interesting, but not going to draw people to the theaters. There are some surprises, but the movie was easy to follow and predictable in several ways. The music in the movie was very generic, with a lot of piano pieces for dramatic purposes. The movie's IMDB page had the "Thriller" tag, but I'd say the movie is more of a Drama than a Thriller. Most of it is watching Keaton grapple with his CJD while cleaning up the mess caused by his son and executing a very elaborate and slow-moving plan. One aspect of these budget non-theater-like movies is that they feature at least one veteran actor that would probably attract financiers, but they do almost nothing and often never leave a certain location. That's a B-movie thing as well. This movie's equivalent to that is none other than Al Pacino. When he made his debut in the movie, I was ready to fold my arms, expecting that he would just take up space. Marcia Gay Harden also pops up in this, but her debut didn't make me worry, I was instantly happy to see her, she played Knox's ex-wife. Some little eye-roll-worthy stuff includes the description of a certain character, with one bad aspect after another, as if the movie tried very hard to paint this guy as the absolute worst person ever. You know the saying "Show don't tell?" This movie had it flipped, saying a lot, with not much showing. It kind of reminds me of The Beekeeper where they really piled up how terrible Josh Hutcherson's character was and the scam that he more or less runs. It's kind of a boomer thing, and with Keaton's age and status as an actor, I imagine a movie like Knox Goes Away would cater more to boomers. Since I love Michael Keaton, the movie did have a hook cast on me, and I finally took the bait.

Basically, this movie was at risk of being mediocre, despite having some good actors. As it turns out, the acting saved this movie. Specifically the performances of Michael Keaton and James Marsden. Al Pacino did almost make me groan, but as the movie progressed, I got the feeling that his character, Xavier, was a somewhat self-aware one. Xavier is Knox's friend, and also the one who trained him, I guess to be a killer. The self-awareness came in the form of his being married to a woman who is more than half his age. I'd say in her 30s, and he said in one scene that he's close to 90. In that same scene, he told his wife that he divorced one of his exes before she was born! That kind of dialogue and the fact that Pacino spends 95% of his screen time sitting made me think he, the writer, and/or Keaton, were aware of the whole B-movie veteran actor thing I mentioned earlier, as well as Pacino having a kid in his 80s, with a woman who was far younger than him. Also, his current wife is Russian, so one could think she's a mail-order bride. I just thought of that, didn't cross my mind while watching the movie. So yeah, Pacino would gradually win me over. I love Pacino by the way, mainly for his past performances. Over the last 20 or so years, his roles have been inconsistent. You get wasteful ones and strong ones, an example of the latter is The Irishman. Also, going back to the direct-to-HBO thing, one of his better roles in the last 20 years was as Jack Kevorkian in the HBO movie, "You Don't Know Jack." Hehe.

Back to the two main actors, they basically elevated this movie. It would've been a bargain bin shit that just so happened to feature Al Pacino, but Keaton and Marsden really came to play. With Marsden, I did think back to his role and wondered if I was overhyping him. A lot of his dialogue isn't that special, pretty predictable, and whatnot. I think it comes down to the delivery. His line delivery was convincing to me, and, the guy has a natural charm. When he speaks, I listen. I thought that charm would only shine in brighter movies like the Sonic ones, but in this more serious movie, he still excelled. I've read a few times about Marsden being considered underrated, and I now understand that. This movie showed he can do serious stuff as well as the comedy. Also, bro, he's 50 years old and looks amazing! There's a scene where he's topless and you see that he's pretty damn fit.

I don't think he's on any gear, aging gracefully and not putting roids in his body (*cough* Dwayne Johnson). I appreciated that he looked like shit early in the movie, as he was fresh off the big mistake he made. So of course he would look very dissheveled. Still, that body! In hindsight, the body was also a good thing because it was believable that this dude would fly off the handle and do some serious damage. Kind of for a good reason, protecting his daughter.

Focusing on Keaton, damn man, he really made me like the movie. He's just awesome. It's a bit hard for me to explain why Keaton's so entertaining as an actor. I know I'm certainly not alone in that, his Batman is universally loved. Birdman got a lot of hype, much of it attributed to Keaton's incredible performance. Even in Jackie Brown, where he had a smaller role, there was just such a likable energy from the guy. Very professional actor too, did everything right and didn't falter, a reliable hand too. Great as a supporting actor, and great as a lead, as seen here. There are plenty of movies where the main character has dementia of some sort. Of course, there's the ongoing real-life situation with Bruce Willis. Dementia is an easy thing to feel sad about. So, it's kind of cliche and predictable for a movie in 2024 to try to tug at the heartstrings with a dementia-stricken main character. Keaton did so well that it made me not mind this umpteenth iteration of such a story. The hitman twist also helps. Keaton's voice is also perfect for this kind of character, a grizzled veteran where anything he says, you listen. I'm not entirely sure if he accurately portrayed a man with CJD. I want to think he did, though I did question the extent of his functioning. For example, his driving, I expected his ability to drive to be gone almost immediately after the diagnosis, but nope. The progression of the CJD was handled well in the movie, so later on, it got pretty damn rough. I say that as a compliment since that involved Keaton working pretty hard. Keaton's directing was serviceable. He didn't do anything flashy, it's a very simple movie in terms of visuals and storytelling. There was a long shot that was unnecessary and came off as flexing, but it wasn't bad. This is his 2nd directorial gig, and I think he could make a successful career out of that.

The police scenes were very meh to me. I know they're necessary since the movie has to be grounded to an extent, but I quickly wasn't positive about it. I didn't know any of the actors playing cops, so that made things worse. They had quips and one-liners, but I thought they were a bit forced, to give these people some personality. I wasn't impressed, though I will say they made me laugh once. I was ashamed of myself for laughing, but it was effective. It was a follow-up to a scene where the lead detective, Emily Ikari (Suzy Nakamura), corrected a male detective for always referencing potential suspects as male. It's 2024, ease on the gender stereotypes and roles, the suspect could be a woman. So that was a bit of a groan scene, but the follow-up saw the man get one up on Detective Ikari, and it made me laugh. Yeah, not a good look for me to laugh at the man one-upping a woman and vice versa, but hey, it happened. For the most part, Ikari was a cold, no-nonsense detective. They attempted to humanize her, for lack of a better term, but they didn't go hard on it, to the point where I wondered why bother. Overall, the cops weren't bad, but they certainly had nothing on Keaton and Marsden. Nearly all the scenes without either of those 2 dragged the movie down a bit.

Back to Marsden, the casting of him as Keaton's son was very smart. There was one scene that sealed the deal for me. It was a diner scene where they talked, and the shots of them somehow made me fixated on their eyes. No close-ups, but perhaps the lighting was deliberate to where everything around them was dark or dimly lit. The one strong light on them was whatever bulb was hanging over them. They had similar eye colors, which I found very useful in depicting them as related. The age difference also helps. Basically, I could buy them being father and son.

Random movie reference, but when the final scene played, I thought about the movie Knock At The Cabin. This is because I had a similar sentiment to that where I think the acting carried the movie, and everything else was meh. The acting from Dave Bautista to be more specific, without it, you have a very mediocre M. Night Shyamalan movie. So, this movie was "Knox At The Cabin." Even funnier, there was a scene where Knox was at a cabin!

Oh right, I want to shout out an actor who had a small role in this. He played Philo, a friend of Knox who specialized in "cashing out." He was played by Dennis Dugan, who I know more for his directing of so many Happy Madison movies as well as a childhood favorite, Beverly Hills Ninja. Another random comment, in the diner scene with Knox and Miles, the latter refused to eat ribs because he's vegan. But then he went against that a few minutes later, saying that he was starving. He hadn't eaten for a day, I get that, but sheesh, going against veganism so flippantly, that must anger actual vegans. Another example of this movie having a bit of a boomer mindset, making fun of modern stuff. I digress.

I think that's it. To sum things up, if you're a fan of Michael Keaton and/or James Marsden, then give this a try. This movie certainly reminded me how brilliant Keaton is, and that I should watch more movies he led. With Beetlejuice 2 coming in a few months, I really need to watch the original. It's best to go into this for those actors, as nearly everything else in the movie ranged from meh to decent. Those two actors made this a good movie. Cheeky old Al Pacino was fine and I was happy to see Marcia Gay Harden pop up. I hadn't seen her in a very long time. The last time I watched her was in 50 Shades of Grey. What a boring movie that was. Anyway, rating time.


Napoleon Dynamite

God, this is a movie I would love to do a full-fledged one for, but alas. I added this to my queue spontaneously after learning that its theatrical release was on June 11, 2004. It's 20 years old! I added it to the queue, not expecting it to be selected so soon after the fact! Knox Goes Away and All Of Us Strangers were downloaded months ago, the latter as far back as February. So, when Napoleon Dynamite was randomly selected, I felt bad. I prefer random selection to going by list order, by the way, I find it more fun. So yeah, I've seen this movie a bunch of times. I think the first time I watched it was in 2006, so not a Day 1 fan of Napoleon Dynamite, but kind of close. I probably first watched it on MTV, whose film division acted as distributors along with Fox Searchlight. Searchlight distributed All Of Us Strangers, have to bring up a tenuous link to another movie I watched recently. Anyway, this movie was an instant comedy classic to me. I understand why it was considered offbeat, unconventional, an oddity, but it clicked with me upon the first viewing. Maybe it's a millennial thing, but man! Vote For Pedro, dancing to Canned Heat, Rex Kwon Do, loads of memorable lines, the music! I went years without watching this movie and when "We're Going to Be Friends" plays, the chorus comes to mind immediately. I didn't know until last night that this was a White Stripes song! This was apparently the first movie to use a White Stripes song. This is a movie I know so well that I can type an entire review without a new re-watch of the movie. This entire first paragraph was typed before watching the fucking movie. My last viewing of the movie was in 2021 when I was recovering from a bout of cellulitis in my left leg. It hurt to walk and I spent days binging shows, namely Family Guy and Hunter X Hunter (absolutely incredible anime). I then moved to movies, checked out Hulu since I had a shared account, saw Napoleon Dynamite there, and thought, "Why not?" It proved to be an effective comfort movie. I'm sure the movie is still on Hulu.

I'm typing this review as if people reading this have seen the movie. It's kind of hard to switch things up for people who have never seen the movie. It's one of the best examples of an acquired taste, so the audience that would gravitate to it would be relatively niche. Certainly a movie with a cult following, and I'm sure a good chunk of that audience consists of millennials such as myself. So, sorry in advance for how this review is presented. I'll give a little synopsis. The movie's about Napoleon Dynamite and the people around him doing their thing. You're transported to a small Idaho town, Preston, and you become familiar with Napoleon (Jon Heder), his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell), their uncle Rico (Jon Gries), a new student and friend of Napoleon, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), and a quirky female student, Deb (Tina Majorino). There are numerous other memorable characters, but you spend more time with the ones I mentioned. The plot is pretty loose, where you get a lot of vignettes, but eventually you get some storylines. The big one was Pedro running for school president and Napoleon helping him out. Other storylines include Kip meeting his girlfriend after chatting with her for months, Uncle Rico acting like a snake oil salesman, selling generic Tupperware and then fucking herbal breast enhancers! It's a very lowkey movie and I didn't quite appreciate back then how much of an indie spirit the movie had. I thought it was all professionally done, with the odd vibes being more orchestrated. But no, it was genuine, and now I think it was the very first independent movie I've seen.

Anyway, as far as this particular viewing, it still holds up! I had Domino's pizza with the Philly Cheese Steak Loaded Tots while watching this. I didn't order the tots for the movie, so once the tater tots appeared in the movie, it dawned on me that my meal was perfect for the movie. I don't recall how I felt about Rico's creepy moments, but in this viewing, holy crap! His Bust Must Plus arc hit me harder than ever before. He was still hilarious, I don't like him any less. It just adds another dimension to the movie, more shock. The scene where he and Napoleon wrestled started with the latter throwing a huge piece of fruit at the windshield of Rico's 1975 Dodge Tradesman Santana. That fruit throw actually shocked me. I had seen it before, but somehow it still caught me off guard. Rico pulling up in that van to give Bust Must Plus fliers to two teenage girls now came off as cringey, but I still laughed!

The movie was labeled as a "cringe" comedy, which was all the rage in the 2000s. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Office, damn Steve Carell really was a big part of that era. Numerous lines come off as cringey, especially when applied to the real world. About half of what Napoleon says is awkward, and the general vibes he, Deb, and even Pedro give off would make someone outside of that Idaho bubble uncomfortable. This is all pretty deliberate and as someone from the outside, it was easy to find comedic gold in this. The state of Idaho embraced the movie, for good reason. From my limited knowledge of the state, Napoleon Dynamite was the biggest thing related to it until the Bryan Kohlberger killings. Preston is in the southeast section of Idaho, bordering Utah. I bring that up because co-writer/director Jared Hess and Jon Heder were college buds at Brigham Young University. See, reading that made me feel good about the thought I had at one point during the movie viewing. The thought was that I got Mormon vibes from most of these characters. If they practiced any religion, it would be Mormonism. There are virtually no curse words, I had to remind myself that the movie's PG!

Overall, I had a permanent smile from start to finish, chuckling at the end of many scenes, and losing it a few times, such as when Napoleon discovered all those Bust Must Plus fliers on his locker. If I had watched this during the day, I might've let myself laugh out loud more. It was too late to be doing that. Nonetheless, the movie's still hilarious to me.

That 2021 viewing was actually the first time I watched the post-credits scene. I think all my previous viewings of Napoleon Dynamite were on TV because they never played that scene. I may have downloaded it back then, but either it wasn't on whatever video file I got, or I just exited out of the media player right when the credits played and I didn't stick around for the post-credits scene, let alone skip ahead to see. Either way, that was another funny scene, and I didn't need to read up trivia to tell that the scene was filmed well after the movie was in the can. But yeah, Fox Searchlight provided additional funds for that scene after they acquired the rights to the movie. Earlier this year, the movie had a special screening at Sundance, where it made its debut before the theatrical run. I read up on that event and saw pictures and clips from it as well, and it put a smile on my face. I refuse to take out the rose-tinted glasses for this. It's a sacred cow movie, a cow that has a 5th teat.

Just some random comments, it's hard to have a structured and focused review on a movie I've seen loads of times and love so much.

1. I watched an IG reel recently where a guy shared several trivia bits about the movie. One was about this 80s motif, which I never thought about. I can see it now with some of the hairstyles and clothing. There was a picture of a blonde woman Deb had at first before Napoleon unintentionally obtained it. The blonde woman looked like something from the 80s, and I thought the woman was Debbie Harry! It wasn't, just a friend of Jared Hess. It was definitely set in the present day back then, as in the 2000s. Kip's computer, talks of his chatroom, and ordering online indicated all that. I never heard of having to pay by minutes in a chatroom, that sounds really bad. Other trivia bits talked about the low budget, and how much of the cast were buddies/acquaintances of co-writer/director Jared Hess. I mentioned the blonde in that pic as an example. I had never looked up any trivia about the movie before this year, and I somehow thought this movie was a bit more, I don't know, higher grade. Learning these things made me more impressed with the movie. The fact it gained a cult following and became a success feels even more like a miracle. It's a generational movie, and with the 2000s not having a lot of comedies that age well, this one still holds up to me and is also super impressive. I really want to try to deep dive into trivia about this movie, I can't believe I didn't do it before.

2. Pedro has a lot of rizz! It kind of indicated that he was pretty bold, or perhaps blissfully unaware of the standards other people have. He first tried to score Summer (Haylie Duff), the popular blonde girl in school. He would later run against her for school president. He tried to score Summer by making a cake for her! In hindsight, there seemed to be loose boundaries or just ignorance when it comes to romantic relationships. Summer hung around with this blonde doofus, and I assumed he was her boyfriend. I thought this was a thing from the start, so Pedro trying to ask out Summer was always going to be a losing battle. He didn't know she was dating him? Either way, it was a noble effort. Then he scored a date to the dance through Deb, but even that turned out to be a platonic thing. Kind of digging into the screenplay here, but it seemed clear that Deb and Napoleon were always going to be a thing. As offbeat as this movie is, it certainly wasn't that on a cultural level. In other words, no interracial relationships. Pedro's true passion seemed to be becoming the school president. Why? I don't know, but I'll always vote for Pedro. I'm pretty sure I saw the shirt worn by classmates back then. It's iconic after all, and it certainly holds up more than the Vote Or Die campaign from Diddy.

3. I never knew who the woman was who visited Rico near the end. I had to look it up, and it was apparently his ex-girlfriend. I thought it was a woman who wanted to try his Bust Must Plus! It would've helped if they showed a picture of the woman earlier in the movie, though it would've foreshadowed her popping up in the movie. Either way, it was part of the montage of happy endings, so to speak.

4. The high school principal is either ignorant or just racist. How he dressed down Pedro after the pinata incident made me side-eye the dude. Even how he talked to Pedro in his first scene made me raise an eyebrow. There was a funny little moment where he danced to Summer's dancing skit. I never looked up what the song was, but in this viewing, it was obvious that the song was from Backstreet Boys. Lo and behold, I got confirmation of that, Larger Than Life.

5. Napoleon Dynamite doesn't have much rizz, and judging by several scenes, he would shoot some off-putting DMs to women. Saying that it took 3 hours to get the shading on a woman's upper lip, wow. That dude definitely didn't understand boundaries and how to properly talk to women. It's funny to watch, but in real life, he comes off as a pitiful character. Jon Heder has said that he would take Napoleon in a much darker direction. Frankly, it might work, no way he'd be happy today. Anyway, at least he found someone in this movie, like Kip.

6. Kip got more rizz than Napoleon. I like saying "rizz" too much. The relationship with La'Fawnduh was funny but very wholesome. When she gifted him that chain, I immediately thought that Kip had become part of Dipset! It was an eagle necklace, similar to the Dipset symbol. The guy's outfit later in the movie was wild, same energy as Drake. The post-credits scene featured Kip singing. Bro, he could've put out a fire mixtape on DatPiff! But seriously, he was such a hilarious character. One of his first highlights was when he said "Your mom goes to college" in response to Deb saying that she's raising money for college. BURN! I was quite surprised that Ruell and Heder were similar in age. Ruell was born in 1976, Heder was born in 1977. I thought Heder was born in the 80s, but damn! Kip looked to be in his early 30s with the hair and tache he rocked. I would later learn that the characters are supposed to have a 16-year age gap. So yeah, Kip would be in his 30s.

7. After Napoleon tested the time machine, Uncle Rico appeared. I never realized until this viewing that he had already tried the time machine. I somehow never picked up on him in pain, since the time machine is pretty much an electrocution device. He briefly indicated that he was still in pain in the next scene when he and Napoleon were shopping. Dude yelled at Napoleon like a mom to a child.

8. Rex (Diedrich Bader) would be a Trump voter, those damn pants, the bandana, the shades! He would also be a staple on McDojoLife. That's a social media account that posts stuff about bullshit martial artists, all of it being funny. I must admit that I heard about them from Joe Rogan. One of the few things I can thank that guy for. Anyway, Rex was hilarious. His wife was a female bodybuilder, to who I was attracted. I'm a weirdo, no wonder I love this movie.

9. The guy who was Summer's boyfriend was such a hilarious doofus. He made a lot of animated facial expressions. Back then, I thought it was because the guy was a comedic actor. Now I just think he was an amateur with a knack for goofy facial expressions. It worked, he made quite the impression. You can't miss his facial expressions during the presidential speeches. There was also a bully who looked like Ed from Ed Edd N' Eddy. He also came off as a small-brained brute, like Ed!

10. The soundtrack still holds up. The MTV connection did wonders, even though most of the music is old stuff, 80s and whatnot. I'll forever associate "Forever Young" and "Time After Time" with this movie. Canned Heat, come on, it's Napoleon's theme song. I learned that Jon Heder loved to dance, so I imagine he had a blast doing the big dance toward the end. Fun fact, the Sundance debut of the movie didn't feature an opening credits sequence. It just faded to Napoleon waiting for the bus. It definitely cost them money to get the rights to many songs, so the MTV Films rub had to have helped. The debut scene of the two Mexicans who gave Napoleon a ride featured an instrumental. I thought it was the instrumental from Ice Cube's "How To Survive In South Central." It kind of is, that song sampled the instrumental from So Ruff So Tuff by Zapp & Roger.

11. Speaking of those Mexicans, Napoleon referred to them as Pedro's cousins. I didn't think that was true, just something he assumed. Well, from what I read, they were his cousins. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised because there were no other Mexicans in the movie, let alone people of color, so it's believable that the only minorities in Preston would make up one family, Pedro's. There was a young Mexican woman who answered the phone in Pedro's house, talking to Napoleon. I assume she was his sister. She had a bottle of beer with her. If they had product placement permission, that beer would've definitely been a Corona. Later on, Napoleon guzzled down a red drink from a bottle with the label removed. It's obviously Gatorade, the bottle's design is unmistakable.

12. Putting some respect on Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez, I did give other movies they starred in a chance, not sticking myself to Napoleon Dynamite. I was rewarded with some good shit. The Crank movies with Ramirez, I mentioned them before when I reviewed Satanic Hispanics. I'll also shout out Satanic Hispanics, even though it wasn't that great. With Jon Heder, Blades of Glory, that was great. I also watched School for Scoundrels, but that was a very long time ago and I don't know if it holds up. Its opening credits song sure holds up, Lovely Day by Bill Withers. The Benchwarmers, ugh. It might not hold up, because fuck Rob Schneider. But I will always love the Carlos montage with Daddy Yankee's Gasolina playing. Carlos was Dominican, even though the actor is Puerto Rican. I still had Dominican pride. Speaking of Benchwarmers, the director of that was Dennis Dugan, who I mentioned earlier in my Knox Goes Away review! Damn, I love tenuous links between movies I watch. Back to Heder, I also watched some made-for-TV Christmas movie called...Christmas Eve. It was one of those multi-story things like Love Actually and those movies in the 2000s/2010s named after holidays like New Year's or whatever. It was mediocre, and definitely made for TV, but I was pleased to see Heder. Patrick Stewart's also in that, crazy right? I digress.

13. The scene when Rico went to a woman's house and stayed for too long, leaving Napoleon hanging. What were those two doing? She didn't hear the knocking? Were they knocking boots? I don't think people say "knocking boots" anymore.

14. The opening credits sequence was Aaron Ruell (Kip)'s idea. A great one since that sequence was amazing. I wonder how many takes they needed for it, and how long it took to shoot. It was somehow natural and carefully executed at the same time. Fox Searchlight didn't like the look of the actor's hands in that sequence, so they flew out a hand model to reshoot some of those shots. I honestly thought they were all done by Jon Heder.

15. Jon Heder drew all drawings except for the unicorn. I wonder if he designed the picture of Summer's head that you see when she walked out to deliver her campaign speech. Heder was only paid $1000 for the movie, it grossed $40 million from a budget of $400k, wow.

16. At this point I'm getting into trivia-sharing territory. The movie featured one of the longest credited cast lists in history, all 181 student extras' names were listed! That's pretty dope actually. Hell, some rapid-fire trivia bits. The movie was shot in 22 days! Heder and Ramirez actually have identical twins, which blew my mind years ago. I didn't know about that for a long time, and even now, it is a shock because I forgot! Tina, the llama that Napoleon had to feed in the movie, belonged to Jared Hess' mother, its real name is Dolly. Jon Jeder credited Tina Majorino with helping to choreograph the dance scene. He also said he borrowed moves from Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, John Travolta, and the 1971 movie Soul Train. He also mixed in some of his own moves. It was basically the movie version of the classic internet video, "Evolution of Dance." You can pick out the influences in that epic dance sequence. Unsurprisingly, the dance scene was the last one scheduled, and it was a combination of three takes!

17. More trivia, Efren Ramirez was 31 when the movie was made!!! WHAT?! So that means he's in his 50s now! I cannot believe that. The woman who played Rico's ex-girlfriend was Aron Ruell's wife! Idaho unanimously passed a bill praising co-writers and husband and wife Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess for making the film, citing amongst their reasons that the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria people, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention. Tater tots being prominent in the film had promoted Idaho's most famous export. Yeah, I think this movie made tater tots famous, I don't recall eating them much, if at all before this movie came out. Since then tater tots have been a beloved side meal. Idaho potatoes are the real deal I guess. The movie also featured some typical farm life stuff, but even those made for striking sequences. The chicken coop sequence comes to mind, and the very white lunch they had, lots of eggs in that. Also, a pitcher full of egg yolks! NASTY! The old men who organized this temp job thing drank that fucking shit!

18. One of the trivia bits I got from the IGN reel was that the movie was edited using Final Cut Pro. Some more details about that, they edited in producer Jeremy Coon's apartment using a $6000 Macintosh, nice.

19. The words Kip said as he was typing in the early scene were all improvised by Aaron Ruell. That's awesome. Apparently, if you listen closely, you can hear him singing a little bit right as their grandma comes in. I haven't mentioned the grandma before. She doesn't have much screen time, being out of commission for most of the movie due to a dune buggy accident.

20. The movie is based on a short film Jared Hess made in 2002 with Jon Heder. Almost everything from the short made it into the feature film. One example mentioned was the scene where Napoleon and Pedro are at a state fair appraising cows and tasting milk. Speaking of tasting milk, Napoleon pointed one out for having bleach. So...he drank bleach. Yuck. In the short, there is only one line of spoken dialogue that mentions the milk taste-testing. That trivia bit is pretty dope because it demonstrates how they got to do pretty much everything they wanted for this movie, no producer or studio bullshit.

21. Jonathan Demme, most famous for directing The Silence of the Lambs, shouted out Napoleon Dynamite in the "Yo Gotta See This" book, praising it for doing something new on the screen and it moved and delighted him! That's an expert opinion, and one I completely agree with. Jack Black almost played Rex in this movie. He would work with Jared Hess in Nacho Libre. I actually didn't know Hess directed Nacho Libre, I've never even seen the movie. I should give that a try.

22. The name "Napoleon Dynamite" is a pseudonym used by Elvis Costello for his 1986 album "Blood and Dynamite." Jeremy Coon said that the similarity is a coincidence and the producers were unaware of Costello using that name until the film was in production. That's crazy.

23. Jon Gries nearly quit acting and planned on dedicating himself to writing. A casting director he knew needed him to fill in a role that another actor dropped out of in The Big Empty. Gries did the role, and when his scenes were edited together, Jared Hess and Jeremy Coon were casting for Napoleon Dynamite in the same office and got a look at Gries' work. They offered him the role of Rico. Gries said that his manager was unsure of the role, but Gries read the script and said that by page 15, he was happy to play it. Sweet! The only other movie I recall seeing Gries in was Monster Squad, which you barely see him in since he becomes the Wolfman. Whenever Rico is wiping his mouth, that was Gries spitting out the steak his character always ate. He doesn't eat red meat! I never really picked up on that.

24. Jared and Jerusha Hess met while attending BYU. When Napoleon Dynamite moved into production, Jared dropped out of school to direct the movie. It was risky because Jerusha was pregnant at the time! A risk that paid off.

25. Okay, this review is getting dominated by trivia, I'll give out one more trivia bit. I mentioned the special Sundance screening of the movie earlier this year. During that event, Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, and Jon Gries were asked what their characters would be up to in 2024. Heder said that Napoleon would work 2 part-time jobs to pay for alimony and child support for 2 illegitimate children and that he would not be a charming adult. Yeah, that's pretty dark. Ramirez said that Pedro would have married Summer and had 5 children while owning a bakery and working as a local politician on the side. I can totally believe that, especially the 5 children thing. A sad stereotype that Latinos have a lot of kids. I'm Latino and my mom had 4 kids. Gris said that Uncle Rico would still be an entrepreneur, having started a YouTube channel featuring illegal teenage backyard wrestling! WOW, that's perfect! I thought about YouTube during the scenes where he's filming himself throwing a football. He was a high school football star and he goes back to that so much that you can easily tell that he lives in the past. Interesting bit, when Pedro is getting scolded by the principal, you can see a 2nd place football trophy behind him. That indicates either he was the coach of that fateful football game where Preston High School failed to win the state title, or the principal was Rico's teammate back then. I lean toward the latter.

Fuck, this was such a long review that it may as be a full-fledged one. I just didn't go in-depth with the characters in a more organized fashion. I also hardly talked about La'Fawnduh. Quick shout out to her, she was tall, dark, and beautiful. Shondrella Avery played her, and they may have piled on the stereotypes. Mentioning that she was from Detroit, for example. The fact she turned Kip from a white guy to a white guy trying to be Black (kind of like Drake), and even the music they played for her scenes was funky, unlike many other musical cues in the movie.

Dammit, I should wrap this up, I can go on and on about this movie. I love it so much, and this viewing actually made me a bit more positive about the movie. To the point where I want to update the 9/10 rating, I gave it years ago as part of my movie-watching log. Oh yeah. This movie is a generational comedy classic. When I talked about the movie last night in a Discord channel, someone responded very positively and mentioned how the movie's a genuine snapshot of the 2000s. I didn't think much of that time period, but yeah! They're right, this movie did go for an 80s aesthetic, but it still screams 2000s. It really is a movie millennials gravitate to, and I assume many would agree that it holds up. It certainly does for me. I'm so happy I watched this, even if it was earlier than I expected due to the nature of the random selection. My movie queue is now shaping up to include movies that came out recently, older movies I've never seen before and want to watch, and movies that are celebrating milestone anniversaries, the ones that end in 0 or 5. Case in point, Napoleon Dynamite is 20! I have one on the list that's now 25 years old, to give another example. So yeah, this movie is amazing to me. Like numerous other movies, I have such a heavy bias for it that I'm not surprised by the variety of ratings for the movie. I'm sure some people hate this movie, people that are lukewarm. It's a movie that hits in all the right places for me. I really hope I get to watch this with other people, a watch party with Ahptik hopefully. That would be amazing. I'm still very happy that I watched it so many times at home.


PS: Ugh, I really struggle to make short reviews. I should just not talk about review length. You get what you get. At least I'm making good progress in my movie binge. Also, I can't stop myself from adding to the queue, it might not ever end, especially since I'll pause the queue to binge X-Men movies next month. Just a few minutes ago, I added another movie to the queue. Right now, I have 19 slots. I didn't say 19 movies, because 1 slot is for Mad Max movies. I still have never watched one, and I need to catch up. Anyway, I should shut up now.
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Old June 21st, 2024, 11:17 PM   #20572
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Originally Posted by Oh hi Mark! View Post
1. Knox Goes Away
2. 1 slot is for Mad Max movies. I still have never watched one, and I need to catch up. Anyway, I should shut up now.
I thought Knox goes away was ok, it was a good "end of the story" movie.

The Mad Max series =
1. mad max - a pretty good ultra-low budget movie.

2. Road Warrior =
Fucking perfect. Road Warrior spawned an entire genre of movies in the early 80s. It's still a damned good movie that skips the human interest bullshit, and gets straight to the survivng part.

3. Thunderdome =
Silly premise, Dusk till Dawn style town with weirdos and over the top characters. Pretty far fetched, but still fun.
But, it's still definitely a Mad Max movie with all the decadent weirdness that implies.

4. furry road =
An ok, bullshit political movie, with no Max. Well, Max does appear in a holiday gift box on a shelf for about 20 seconds, with about that much relevance. It's NOT a Mad Max story. It's not apocalyptic. It's got none of the technical desperation of all the earlier movies. (nobody runs out of gas)(none of the vehicles are breaking down junk) (none of it feels like the last place on earth).

5. Furiosa =
Even further away from a Mad Max story. Saw the trailer, read the synopsis, didnt fucking care.
Was it good? Who the fuck cares.
If it aint Max, dont fucking call it a Max Max movie.
Would I have gone to see 40 minutes of some little girl blah blah? Of course not.
Would I have gone to see a Furiosa movie that didnt waste my time telling me about life style shit I have no interest in? Maybe.
Would I have gone to see a Mad Max style movie that had a Sarah Conner type heroine shooting people (of both sexes) and blowing up shit in wild post-civ, outrageous scenarios, where she has to use cunning and brains to survive instead of some fucktard/dumbass delusional dream where a 110lb woman fist fights with Andre the Giant and doesnt end up with her arms torn off in the first 17 seconds? Sure.
It might be a fun movie. I'd probably be interested enough to at least steal it to watch.
This wasnt any of the good things, and all of the bad. I didnt bother, and it looks like no one else did either.

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