In story terms, Napoleon Dynamite is little more than a thin gumbo of high-school movie clichés, as bumbling nerdling Napoleon (Jon Heder) struggles to find a prom date while aiding his best friend's school election campaign. And yet from this unappetising premise co-writer/ director Jared Hess somehow conjures up the funniest character-driven comedy in recent memory. Gosh, indeed.
Heder is incendiary in the title role, his performance only matched in terms of nuance and detail by that of his director, whose eye for the details of smalltown geekdom is astonishing. Behold the Moon Boots, the elaborate fantasy drawings and Napoleon's wire-wool hairstyle and permanently gaping-wide mouth. And it's entirely thanks to the career-making turns of this duo of Napoleon dynamos that their movie appreciates in value with every passing viewing.