Wednesday, March 09, 2005

My vote is for Pedro

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 09, 2005

Vote for Pedro.

If you just said, “Who’s Pedro?”, this week’s column may not be for you.

Pedro is a character in my new favorite movie, “Napoleon Dynamite.”

I’ve noticed that people tend to have one of two reactions to this movie.

One is of hysterical laughter, and the other one is somewhere along the lines of “Huh?”

“Napoleon Dynamite” is basically about a white dude with an afro who was absent the day social skills were handed out. He lives with his unemployed 32-year-old brother, his grandma, and a casserole-eating llama named Tina. Napoleon’s best friend is Pedro, a Mexican immigrant and social outcast, who decides — against all odds — to run for class president.

Given the synopsis, I can understand the folks, including the ladies I was chatting with at church the other day, who just don’t get it. I think one’s sense of humor has to be a little “off” to find this movie funny.

I don’t mean the Howard Stern kind of “off.” I mean David Letterman filling balloons with guacamole and dropping them off of 10-story buildings. To me, that kind of thing is the pinnacle of comedy.

So when Lyle, the oblivious farmer across the street from Napoleon’s house, shoots his cow in the head in front of a school bus full of horrified children, I just plain think that’s funny.

Among my favorite lines is when Napoleon is trying to make conversation with a girl in the school cafeteria. He says: “I see you’re drinking one-percent. Is that because you think you’re fat? Because you’re not.

You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.”

You can’t say Napoleon doesn’t have a way with the ladies.

It’s not just the movie that caught my attention. I like the story behind it, too. Jared and Jerusha Hess, then-students at Brigham Young University, made the film in 2003 for $200,000. It grossed more than $45 million in theatres and, in about three months, sold more than a million DVDs. I’ve got one of them.

You can even choose from a variety of “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts at

The Hesses, both of the Mormon persuasion, remind us that a movie doesn’t have to have sex, violence (except for the cow thing) or swearing to be entertaining. I hope Hollywood is taking notes.

And Jon Heder, the previously-unknown actor who plays Napoleon, has already received the ultimate indicator of fame — his own urban legend.

Someone started the rumor that he either died in a car accident or of a drug overdose. It’s not true. Please don’t forward it to me.

On a side note while we’re talking about movies, I watched “The Notebook” the other night. It annoyed me. You can call me a blasphemer if you want.

You wouldn’t be the first. I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.

“Napoleon Dynamite” isn’t perfect, either. The actor who plays the popular guy at Napoleon’s high school doesn’t look a day under 35. And Jon Gries, the red-meat shunning actor who plays steak-eating Uncle Rico, can be seen attempting to stealthily spit steak out of his mouth in one scene. But that’s OK.

I’m still voting for Pedro.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is


  • At Wed Mar 09, 03:54:00 PM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    OK, I guess my sense of humor is a little off as well, because I absolutely love this movie. I have seen it 5 times! My sister and I quote it constantly. Have you ever noticed the portraits of them in their house with the profile picture super imposed? Very cute.

    One of my favorite lines...
    "This has got to be the dumbest film ever made."

    "Napolean, like any one could really know that."

  • At Wed Mar 09, 04:44:00 PM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    Haven't seen it yet . . . but "Vote for Pedro" will probably soon be the new catchphrase across the country, if it isn't already.

    I finally figured out how to link your blog to my blog! Now blog me! :-)

  • At Wed Mar 09, 05:06:00 PM, Blogger MDM said…

    Was'nt there a guy on the REAL WORLD years ago named Pedro that died of AIDS? I always think those shirts with the vote phrase are re: him. Now I know!

  • At Thu Mar 10, 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Mae said…

    HAAAAAA!!! Some of my high schoolers at church are so obsessed w/ this movie. I was going to wait until Christmas 2010 to see it for free on HBO, but I just might head to Blockbuster and rent it.

  • At Sat Mar 12, 08:55:00 AM, Blogger David U said…

    I love Napoleon Dynamite! Amongst the college crowd here in Searcy, there is almost a cult following.
    My 40 year old brother is OBSESSED with it!

    Let me end with: "Whatever I want, GOSH!" :)

  • At Sat Mar 12, 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Beaner said…

    I LOVE this movie - we watched it w/our Teen Group @ church, and every time I see it, it just gets funnier!!! Apparently, every high school talent show in our town has had a Napoleon routine - done exactly like in the movie!!! I am constantly quoting this movie w/everyone I know that's seen it & every time I do I feel like I've time-warped back into H.S.

    So are you guys having a killer time?

  • At Sun Mar 13, 05:57:00 AM, Blogger Kyle said…

    The crazy thing about this movie is that it defies all stereotypical age demographics. The Hip-hop, basketball playing, homies, the teachers, the band kids, gradparents...everyone loves this movie. My students quote it so often you'd think it would get annoying. It hasn't yet, to my surprise.


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