Australian Council on Children and the Media

Napoleon Dynamite

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8s, PG to 13 (Viol., Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Napoleon Dynamite
  • a review of Napoleon Dynamite completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 December 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the low level of violence and its content, it is not recommended for children under 8 who would find it boring.
Children aged 8-13 Due to the low level of violence and its content, parental guidance is recommended for children in this age group.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 would be ok to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Napoleon Dynamite
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Napoleon Dynamite and his older brother Kip have no parents and are being brought up by their Grandmother. With limited social skills Napoleon manages to get himself onto the bus and to school each day while Kip spends his days chatting online to ‘babes’. When Napoleon’s grandmother falls off her motorbike and breaks her coccyx bone Uncle Rico comes to stay much to Napoleon’s dislike. Uncle Rico is a real smooth talker still living in 1982 and with fanciful ideas about how to make money. He manages to persuade Kip into going out door-to-door selling products.

At school Napoleon befriends Pedro, a new boy from Mexico who has limited English. Pedro decides to ask Summer, the cool girl at school, to the school dance. Of course she refuses as she’s going with Don, the cool guy. Instead Pedro asks Deb, a shy girl at school who seems to like Napoleon and she accepts. Napoleon now doesn’t know who to ask so Uncle Rico persuades Trisha, a daughter of one of his female clients, to go with him. At the dance however, Trisha immediately leaves Napoleon.

Pedro then decides to run for class president and he comes up against Summer with very surprising results.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, which is not particularly graphic and quite often meant to be funny:

  • Napoleon frequently gets beaten up at school and gets his head bashed into the lockers.
  • Napoleon crashes his pushbike and injures his groin – in much pain.
  • Napoleon and Kip often slap each other and push each other around.
  • Kip sees an advert for self-defence lessons – Kwon do – where a man’s pointing a gun and then has a woman in a headlock.
  • A farmer shoots a cow – not actually shown, but the children on the bus all scream.
  • Grandma flies over the handles of her motorbike.
  • Uncle Rico throws a steak at Napoleon, knocking his glasses off.
  • Napoleon tries out a time machine Kip bought online – it’s an electronic headpiece he puts on which gives him much pain.
  • One of the tough guys at school grabs a smaller boy by the neck and repeatedly shoves him up and down.
  • Napoleon and Uncle Rico have a fight.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group could be scared by the above-mentioned scenes. Also, when Napoleon gets a job on a chicken farm, battery hens are all shown stuffed into cages and Napoleon has to stuff one in—this scene is quite distressing.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group could also be scared by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group could still be concerned by the physical harassment of weaker boys and also by the chicken farm scene.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group would not be scared by this movie.

Product placement

The ‘Doritos’ products is displayed in this movie.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references:

  • Kip chats online to ‘babes’ all day and manages to find La Fawndah, a female seductress who comes to visit. Kip ends up leaving with her.
  • Uncle Rico sells Bust Must, a bust improver. He demonstrates it to the women using saucepans as a guide to show how big their busts could be. He tries to sell it to Deb and tells her that Napoleon would like her better if she had a bigger bust.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity.

Use of substances

There is no use of substances

Coarse language

There is little coarse language – Napoleon uses the word frigging repeatedly.

In a nutshell

The movie’s message is that it’s hard for different people to fit in to an acceptably normal lifestyle.

There are no values in this movie that parents would want to encourage.
The following content could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of arassing smaller or weaker people and making fun of people’s differences.

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