Love it or hate it, the Napoleon Dynamite movie exploded in popularity when it released in 2004. Originally a low-budget movie operating on $400,000, it was picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures and MTV, giving the film a storm of marketing that helped it become a huge success. Fans fell in love with its quirky script, characters, and how dated the movie looked and felt. Even today you can say the line “Vote for Pedro” and someone will either laugh or groan. Believe it or not, January 17 marks the 8th year since the film released; which has thankfully given enough time for the movie’s references to die down and become enjoyable again. I suppose the creators felt the same way, as an animated show based on the movie aired January 15.
The pilot episode “Thundercone” sees Napoleon gaining unbridled rage after an outbreak of zits appears on his forehead. He uses this rage in a local underground fighting club led by Rex, and that’s about it. The episode does a pretty good job of including every major character from the movie. Pretty much every major character makes an appearance, including Pedro, Deb, Kip, Napoleon’s grandmother, Uncle Rico, Rex, and Don; all voiced by the original cast. Interestingly, the show seems to disregard Kip’s marriage to LaFawnduh, as he is once again hitting up sweet babes in chat rooms.
The big question is, of course, “How was it?” Judging off the pilot episode, it’s okay. I think my biggest mistake was expecting more of the same in regards to humor. While every character acted how you would expect it to, the show takes a bit of a goofier direction. Personally my biggest delight with the original movie was seeing how these oddball characters acted in an otherwise incredibly normal, if not outdated environment. The animated series seems to just be focusing on the silliness of the characters and putting them in outlandish situations with even more oddball characters, which is to be expected. For me, the real highlight of the pilot was seeing Kip being Kip. He meets a girl online who says she will meet him in town since she is “picking up dog food anyways”, and after revealing his spray-on tan, Kip takes the girl out to a date. Even after all this time the character’s mannerisms and speech patterns are still entertaining.
That’s just the thing though; it has been eight years. The movie itself had an explosion of popularity when it came out, which would have been a perfect window of time to release a show. The question now is how many people will care that a cartoon based on Napoleon Dynamite is out. That question will hopefully force the show’s creators to not rely on old jokes, and to craft its own identity while staying true to the personalities and subdued humor of the movie. While I did get some enjoyment out of the pilot, I hope that the show gets into a better groove within the next couple of episodes; otherwise I feel that it won’t really catch on.