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Monday, September 06, 2004

Despite Frances, Labor Day weekend was "Dynamite"

The lovely lil' spousal overunit and I intended to drive down to her parents' place in Georgia three days ago (Friday) for Labor Day weekend. That was before we conferred that afternoon about whether we should go ahead with it after all the projections for the path of Frances showed the storm plowing through Georgia after it entered the Gulf from Florida. Lisa has never experienced a hurricane before. I've gone through plenty... enough to know that fun as they can be to ride out if you're fairly far enough inland, you do not want to drive headlong into one. Especially considering that there'd probably be a few million evacuees on the road between here and there.

So, we didn't go, and spent the weekend here, even though it looks like Frances is now going to be a day or so longer in getting to that part of Georgia. Better to have been safe than sorry though, although I do regret a few things. For one, we were going to make a stop at Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q in Marietta - which just might be the best barbecue joint on the planet - to stock up on more of their barbecue sauce. We started this summer with six bottles of the stuff and doled out the final drop last weekend on some ribs we did on the grill, so we desperately need to replenish our supply. Not this weekend though, but Lord willing we'll get down there sometime soon and get reloaded. When we do I'll offer up a full review of the joint.

This weekend was also when the annual Dragon*Con science-fiction convention was being held in downtown Atlanta. I've been to two of them (in 2001 and 2002) and wanted to hook up with some friends at it this year, had the low-pressure system from Hell known as Frances not played havoc (have heard from lots of folks that they chose not to go 'cuz of it so we're in good company). Would have been fun to have posted some pics from Dragon*Con here, 'cuz the thing really is an amazing assault on the senses, but maybe next year.

In the meantime, we did occupy ourselves with a few things, including spending Saturday afternoon finally catching a flick that I'd heard nothing but very good things about for the past month or so...

Napoleon Dynamite is the movie that I wish had been made back when I was in high school 15 years or so ago. Yes, I admit it: I was Napoleon Dynamite, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Lots of guys were Napoleon Dynamite. Lots of girls were also Deb. And wherever or whoever they might be there was a Pedro in our life. There's plenty of things that people like me can identify with this movie about. What we didn't have then is an icon, a banner, a symbol behind to which rally behind and assert ourselves for all the world to know that yes, we ARE different from you... and that is why we succeed!

That's the best moral that I can attempt to gain from Napoleon Dynamite: to simply be yourself, no matter how quirky or offbeat or defeated the world around you considers you to be. If you were to ask me to be explicit about plot, I couldn't tell you because there really is no plot at work here. There's Napoleon and his weird family and his small circle of friends... and that's it.

Napoleon Dynamite (played by Jon Heder) lives in small-town Idaho with his grandmother and Kip (Aaron Ruell), his 32-year old brother who doesn't work and spends all day on the Internet in romance chat rooms. Oh yeah, and Tina: Granny's pet llama. Napoleon contentedly spends his life as a high school student drawing fantasy animals and making action figures do death-defying stunts from moving schoolbuses. So it is as an outsider that he finds a best friend in new student Pedro Sanchez (Efren Ramirez) who has just moved from Mexico. About the same time Granny Dynamite busts her tailbone after flying off of an ATV so while she's rejuvenating, Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) moves in and immediately takes over the joint with his hair-brained schemes involving herbal supplements and mail-order time machines.

The rest of the movie involves... well, truth be known I can't really remember what it's about, except that Napoleon and Pedro's friend Deb (Tina Marjarino) is trying to get her "glamour shots" business going from her parents' basement and Pedro winds up running for student body president. And something about Future Farmers of America, and a shotgun, and tetherball, and a big dance, and... whatever.

But for some reason, Napoleon Dynamite has been resonating with me a lot in the two days since we saw it. And, it's still making me laugh! For a movie with no real plot or point, it's by far one of the funniest that I've seen in quite awhile. I can't wait to get a copy of it on DVD and show it to friends when they come over if they haven't seen it yet. After a summer of sequels, schlock and silliness, Napoleon Dynamite wound up being a very fine and satisfying way to end this season on.

Oh yeah, if you wind up going to see it (something that I'd heartily recommend) DO NOT LEAVE when the credits begin rolling. Stick around, and wait for EVERYTHING to finish because there is an entire scene that's been added to the original cut that picks up two months after the rest of the movie. You definitely don't want to miss it.