It’s been nearly eight years since Napoleon Dynamite hit the big-screen. The characters were somewhat cartoonish but were fans of the live-action cult classic really looking for an animated TV series sequel?
Napoleon Dynamite follows the adventures of an awkward teenager (Jon Heder) and his family and friends in a small-town in rural Idaho. The original castmembers reprising their roles from the film include Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin, Jon Gries and Diedrich Bader.
Is this new TV series worth your time? Here’s what the critics are saying:
LA Times: “It appears to be aimed squarely at a tween and early teen audience, making it a rare bird among ‘grown-up’ animated shows. South Park, Family Guy and even The Simpsons have forced parents, already burdened by the dilemmas of social media, to agonize over when their kids are ready to watch these particular cartoons, but Napoleon Dynamite, like its feature film predecessor, is surprisingly family friendly. And that’s something anyway.”
NY Daily News: “Whether Napoleon will work as a weekly animated series may depend on how well a teenager fits in with the other oddballs who populate Fox’s Sunday-night animation bloc.”
NY Times: “Over all, though, Sunday night’s episodes are neither here nor there, lacking the oddball singularity of the movie while not yet achieving the satirical bite that would make the TV show interesting. It might have seemed as if a cult movie with cartoonish characters would lend itself to a cartoon, but it’s clearly not as simple as that.”
SF Chronicle: “The writing is a big problem. It’s just not funny, and that may be because audiences could see the real Jon Heder’s expressionless face as he delivered the preposterous dialogue in an unwavering monotone. A two-dimensional Heder isn’t as entertaining. The TV version may do well enough, but if so, it will be largely undeserved. The Hesses can tinker with the show, of course, but unless they’re willing to see the folly of transferring the film concept directly to TV, Napoleon is unlikely to get much better. As it is, Napoleon’s conceptual problem is not too far removed from the egregious mistake of turning the animated Scooby Doo into a live-action feature a decade ago. Freddie Prinze Jr.’s career has never been the same since.”
Chicago Sun Times: “I’ve already established that I’m not a big fan of the film, for which my one-word review would be: meh. I’m even less a fan of the TV series. At least with the movie, the actors relayed a vulnerability that sparked occasional empathy. That pathos got lost in the transition from live action to animation. So did much of the humor — and there wasn’t a lot of that to go around in the first place.”
Newsday: “Despite flashes of the original charm, this series will disappoint some fans of the original. The movie was funny because it was plausible; this cartoon is largely not funny because it is implausible. In spots, it’s been turned into an antic Saturday morning cartoon. A shame.”
USA Today: “Despite the participation of the movie’s creators and the voices of the original cast, tonight’s vulgarized premiere removes much of what made the film special and leaves just another second-rate Fox cartoon. But the second episode at 9:30 ET/PT is a sweeter, funnier improvement. We’ll have to wait and see which represents the show’s actual direction.”
What do you think? Will you be tuning in? If you’ve already watched Napoleon Dynamite TV series, will you watch again? Do you think it will get big ratings or end up cancelled?
Image courtesy FOX.