Cinematic culture broke the mold when releasing Napoleon Dynamite in the summer of 2004. What makes this cult classic so memorable is its complete honesty regarding high school circumstances. Droll characters and scenery keeps the viewer laughing and wildly infatuated. This film gem offers what no other teen movie can: realism. There are no flashy cars no one that age could ever afford, wild parties where rock stars randomly perform or excessively wealthy in-crowd cruelty. There is no nuclear family with smiles and happy sibling moments. But most of all, there is no walking away from the film feeling deflated about your own high school experiences. The characters of this movie deliver a truism that many filmmakers never put out there: High School is not Hollywood-esque.
Therefore, the perfect mom and dad are replaced by a llama-loving grandma whose extreme sports accident leaves Napoleon Dynamite and older brother, Kip in the hands of creepy Uncle Rico. Instead of helping Napoleon 'get the girl', Uncle Rico gets the girl to read a pamphlet on bust enhancement.
The dreaded high school queen bee is portrayed by Hayley Duff as Summer Wheatley, a girl who doesn't dump pig's blood on her competition, but instead simply tells Pedro 'No' in response to his cake prom invite.
The maniacal high school bully who steals homework answers is replaced by a jerk trying to steal the tater tots right out of Napoleon's pockets.
Super cool and theatrical dance or Cheerleading routines are replaced by a beautifully illustrated sign language ensemble that offers a real-life parallel to ongoing mandates with Special Education students.
Ultra flashy cutaways that feature high-end city scenes or ritzy pool parties are omitted in lieu of flatlands and neighborhoods void of any affluence or over the top landscaping.
Napoleon's desire to take popular Trisha to the prom triggers his artistic side. While some typical teen flick directors would have forced the discovery of Napoleon's hidden artistic talent, reality takes the lead again and the portrait is an embarrassing and an unflattering homage to Trisha's face. The horrifying image gets the eye of Trisha's mom, who makes her go to the dance with him.
The essence of this group's high school experience affords the viewer an opportunity to feel like their own high school experiences are more fun and dynamic by comparison. Unless you live in Hollywood, high school is a period of four years most of us just wish to come out of as unscathed as possible. For this reason, Napoleon Dynamite Shirts will always be a cult classic.