Napoleon Dynamite as a film is a canvas stretched thinly over its 86 minute running time. Nevertheless as a comedy where nearly all the laughs rely on the deadpan responses of its characters to the other grotesques in the film, it is remarkably successful. Napoleon himself defines a certain kind of geeky chic, but when you see where his background he becomes almost heroic. This is the high school teen comedy as a Jacques Tati film, and has the same surprising generosity of nature about it.

In comparison to similar British comedies of embarrassment the film bends over backwards to create happy endings for its leads. It may not be realistic (Napoleon’s brother kip certainly does not DESERVE the break he gets) but it does leave happy at the end. The comparison with Todd Solendz’s Welcome To The Dollhouse is a good one: though more to emphasize the differences. Solondz made us see how hopeless and useless his loser characters were. Napoleon Dynamite may be unrealistic in suggesting that even big time losers will get a decent break in the end, but it is more entertaining (and therefore more empty? Hmmm.)