Of all the soundtracks I have reviewed so far, this is the only one that has not already been listed in the database. I had to ask for help from a category lead and Dr. Faustus was kind enough to assist. Thanks. I figured there may be one or two Cds I wasnt able to immediately locate, but I was very surprised when the first one turned out to be NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. The movie earned its budget back 100 times over, gained a friggin huge cult following, has been parodied dozens of times, and introduced the world to one of the most recognizable lead characters since E.T. But somehow the soundtrack slipped through the cracks. Nice.
As weve seen before (Juno), sometimes I buy a soundtrack because it has one song I love. Never mind if the rest of it may suck. That was the case with NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. During the end credits, When in Romes The Promise played as Napoleon and Deb played tetherball and I remember thinking, God, that song sounds really familiar. I like it! I only found out later it was a pretty big hit back in the late 1980s, which may explain why it was familiar. And it was awesome. I love that song. At the time I finally broke down and bought the soundtrack, I was hearing The Promise on the radio a lot, but always from about the mid-point on, never the whole song. Then it hit me one day like a thunderbolt: The Soundtrack!
I bought it that weekend. Its been a favorite ever since.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, the Soundtrack contains a whopping 42 tracks! Its like the ultimate movie soundtrack in that it contains not only the songs featured in the movie (and 1 or 2 not featured, like Rogue Waves Every Moment), but a lot of the best lines of dialogue as well as the incidental background music. Granted most of the background stuff composed and performed by John Swihart comes in around 30 seconds or less, stuff like Granny ATV and Suitwalk, and a lot of it blends together.
Ive never been particularly impressed by the song choices, When in Rome notwithstanding. Consisting mostly of throwaways from the 80s, the soundtrack definitely has a theme. Its just not an especially strong selection. Bow Wow Wows I Want Candy is an old favorite, of course, but stuff like New Mate by Figurine or Design by Fiction Company took a while to grow on me and even now I still cant recall the tunes without the songs playing. English duo Yazs Only You has 1982 written all over it, and while its no 㧏 Luftballoons, its pretty good. Forever Young by Alphaville is another 80s tune. Tame stuff, really. Sparklemotions Time After Time cover pales in comparison to Laupers original. Some songs are sacred and just cant be covered. The only other truly awesome song on here is Jamiroquais Canned Heat which is just about impossible to sit still through. Its just too funky. I never did jump on the Virtual Insanity bandwagon, but damn this is a great song.
Swiharts incidental music is harmless stuff. Someone got a Yamaha home organ for Christmas one year. Hes actually got quite a resume, and in my opinion a good ear for playing to what the scene calls for, whether the light bouncy ditties of Granny ATV or Summers Cake, the bass-heavy funk of Heres Rico or the percussion-driven groove of Suitwalk. Kip Waiting carries a subtle hint of Barry White groove while D-Qwan Boogie is pre-programmed techno brilliance in only 17 seconds.
But lets face it, anyone paying for the NAPOLEON DYNAMITE soundtrack probably isnt interested in John Swihart. If theyre not looking for The Promise or Canned Heat, what they really want is this:
N: Is gramma there?
K: No, shes getting her hair done.
K: What do you need?
N: Could you just go get her for me?
K: Im really busy right now.
N: Just tell her to come get me.
N: Cuz I dont feel good.
K: Well, have you talked to the school nurse?
N: No, she doesnt know anything. Will you just come get me?
N: Well, will you do me a favor then?
N: Can you bring me my chapstick?
K: No, Napoleon.
N: But my lips hurt real bad!
K: Just borrow some from the school nurse, I know she has like 5 sticks in her drawer.
N: Im not gonna use hers, you sicko.
K: See ya.
N: Ugh! Idiot!
That never gets old. The dialogue selections for the soundtrack are many, and for the most part act as a segue from one song to the next, one line here (You do understand English. This isnt that complex), one line there (Itd be really nice if you could pull me into town.), but the longer selections are perfect and hilarious and serve as a constant reminder why we love this movie (and if you dont love NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, then you hate America!). Love it or hate it, you have to admit Jon Heder owned that role. And this soundtrack may not be perfect, it may not be something you can return to time and again for awesome songs that remind you of a great movie (other than Canned Heat, Time After Time and The Promise, I couldnt tell you when any of these songs play during the movie), but with the music, the score, and the numerous dialogue clips, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE the Soundtrack does something not many other soundtracks can: it acts as a surrogate form of the movie. Aside from PULP FICTION I dont recall another soundtrack that comprised so many of the memorable scenes in audio form that it was like carrying the movie itself around with you.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, the Soundtrack is at once nerdy, funny, nostalgic, and heroic, all the things I loved about the movie in the first place. If you loved the movie, you should definitely own the soundtrack as well.
Other Soundtracks in My Collection:
10 Things I Hate About You
City of Angels
From Dusk Till Dawn
Grosse Point Blank
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Kill Bill Vol. 2
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