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First Look: Fox’s Animated “Napoleon Dynamite”

Fox has released a trailer for their upcoming animated Napoleon Dynamite series based on the 2004 indie live-action comedy of the same name. The show is animated (quite poorly it appears) by Rough Draft Studios. In the cautious post-creator driven era of TV animation, Napoleon Dynamite and Flintstones revivals are as good as it’s going to get on Fox.

  • Luke

    I can’t determine if they’re not staying true to the source material or not, my relationship to Napoleon Dynamite is very love/hate.

  • i thought that stupid movie finally faded from pop culture once and for all


    • 2011 Adult

      “Guys, got any fresh titles we can steal that’s been released this year?”

      “Uuuuuuuuuuummm… we already remade that.”

      “Last year?”







      “OH wait! Napoleon Dynamite!”

      “See? We still got it!”

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It certainly feels like that, though at the same time, I can’t help but think that movie would’ve worked as an animated series anytime in the last decade if they have had that same chemistry.

  • Gummo

    Well, it looks just like the movie — minus the humor, charm and unique quirky worldview.

    What’s left? Hard to judge from a one-minute preview, but I’m guessing a black hole of suck.

  • Murray bain

    It totally looks like a review segment on “the critic”. I’m suprised it’s not more like mike judge, it would of fit the vibe of Napoleon better. They could of pushed his design, John heders squint is what made the character. I really liked this film, but I wonder if it will work as an episodic format? I’ll give it shot. It can’t be worse than the bob and Doug show.

    • Funkybat

      I was about to say, the animation and character design looks like some kind of love-child of King of the Hill and The Critic, something I didn’t really think was possible.

      That movie was one of the most unusual I have ever seen. I usually either love or hate cult/indie movies, but Napoleon Dynamite just made me feel *strange*. It’s as if my mind didn’t know how to process it. I will have to re-watch the film before taking at look at this series.

      This makes me wonder what happened to the “Fox Animboom” contest. The winner of that was supposed to get the chance to make a pilot for whatever Fox’s next primetime series would be. Seth’s “Flintstones” and “Napoleon Dynamite” don’t seem to fit that.

  • Daniel Shock

    I liked the movie. Found nothing amusing or worth my time in that clip

  • Baron Lego

    Not to be overly negative, but I have this rotten suspicion that this show may lean towards being an exercise in endlessly recycling EVERYTHING from the movie (Hey everybody- it’s the Diedrich Bader karate instructor guy! Sure, he was nothing more than a peripheral throwaway joke in the original movie but now he’s a reoccurring character!) instead of coming up with new material.

    It’s not that the core concept in and of itself couldn’t make for a decent show (I think that the potential is there) but I’m not terribly keen on watching thirteen (or however many there will be) episodes of regurgitation.

  • Billy Bob

    I’m not gonna pass judgement on the show.

    It’s just that, is it really necessary to make such a cartoon?

    • Chris Sobieniak

      After this point, I sorta gave up.

  • As long as Seth McFarlane has nothing to do with it, I’ll watch it.

  • The Gee

    Between this and that Jonah Hill created cartoon and the Flintstones: Resurrection: we truly live in a golden cartoon age where genius is allowed to shine brightly.

  • G. Melissa Graziano

    John Heder is a huge fan and supporter of animation, especially indie animation. I think he deserves a little support here. Let’s give him a chance, people!

    • tedzey

      I remember him mentioning that in an interview for the movie “Surf’s Up,” which was entertaining (though Shia Labeouf is no Mel Blanc).

      To be honest, i’m holding judgment until the first few episodes are released; just like I did for Bob’s Burgers… which sucked.

      • Gummo

        Sue me, I like Bob’s Burgers.

        The setting’s a bit claustrophobic, but the characters are enjoyably twisted, and it’s so rare to see a family on TV that has “real-life” problems — i.e., working for a living, having trouble making ends meet, having trouble meeting the monthly bills, plagued by the pettiness of mean-spirited authorities (Hugo the health inspector), jealousy of more successful rivals (Jimmy Pesto across the street); and of course, I’m a big fan of H. Jon Benjamin’s vocal work (and the other Bouchard regulars — Sam Seder, Andy Kindler, Ron Lynch).

      • Hey if you like it, power to you!

        If you want to see my thoughts on the show, It’s on my channel under “Cartoon Palooza (update, feedback, bob’s burgers).”

  • Neve

    Fox SUCK-O-RAMA rules!

  • Clint H

    Well, at least the cartoon looks like stuff will actually happen than in the piece-of-crap movie that it’s based on.

  • Tom

    If the entire original cast is back, why bother to make it animated? It seems like it would be easier to produce, cheaper, and retain more charm of the original if it was just live action.

    • I thought the exact same thing. The ugly character designs with their robotic movements have none of the subtle expressions and acting that made the original characters so funny.

    • Funkybat

      It’ll be Idaho’s “King of the Hill.”

  • J.m

    My Lips Hurt real bad I had my personal Tooned up versión of these characters as well as the Nacho Libre characters…oh wait! i could still do Nachooo!!

    well I say the artwork and animation for this is not shit, its like King of the Hill with a much happier colour scheme.
    ” it’s pretty cool…I guess”

  • Barbara

    The film’s characters are great drawing material, and yet the designs are lumpy and hideous. Couldn’t they have gotten a better designer for this project?

  • Karl Hungus

    Apparently this is the bone that was thrown to Mike Scully after the embarrassingly bad “Sit Down Shut Up” was nixed. When is this guy going to move out of the way already. He’s DONE. He almost ruined The Simpsons during his tenure there, failed at his own show, and now is attached to this stinker.

    Its really frustrating that there is so much talent in this industry and so many people willing to take risks and the establishment keeps stepping over them for clueless veterans like Mike Scully.

  • I was actually surprised. this somewhat grabbed my attention and even made me chuckle. Still think the movie has more charm but this looks interesting, I will be waiting.
    My fear is that we get too much napoleon dynamite in the culture instead of a charming little bit.

  • kc

    I am confused by your last comment about post creator driven era animation, especially in relation to Fox. Bob’s Burgers was a hit and was very much a show by Loren Bouchard. I guess if you ignore what proves your theories wrong, you’ll look correct?

    • Bob’s Burgers‘ ratings declined by more than half after its first week. It’s hardly a “hit.”

      Bob’s Burgers is a creator-driven show, but it’s not like Fox picked relative nobodies and hoped for the best. Bouchard already has a couple of shows under his belt. H. Jon Benjamin guest-stars on many [adult swim] shows, and is the voice of Sterling Archer on Archer. Bouchard and Benjamin are two major components of the [adult swim] school of animated comedy. Seems like a safe choice to me.

    • amid

      KC – Identifying a trend doesn’t mean that everything will neatly fall into a single category. So yes, while I do believe that we are seeing the end of the creator-driven era in animation, that doesn’t mean that there will never be another creator-driven show. It simply means that the overall trend in the industry is shifting to another model. And that new model is actually a well-worn one from the ’70s and ’80 which relies on the safety of pre-existing properties over the unique voice of individual creators.

      • kc

        That’s fair, and I can see how you would be committed to commenting on the trend specifically. However, I disagree with your statement that Napoleon Dynamite and the Flintstones revival are as good as its going to get on Fox, as Bob’s Burgers has been renewed for a second season and who knows? Hopefully more creator driven content will follow.

        and Cameron, I wasn’t saying Bob’s Burgers isn’t a safe choice, you misinterpreted my argument. My argument is that Bob’s Burgers is on Fox and is a creator driven show and is successful on Fox (re second season). You are correct about the first week/second week decline but it did receive really good reviews and a second season so maybe its more of a “cult hit” and that is just my opinion, I’ll say it.

      • I was more saying that Fox is banking on long-established creatives delivering what the audience expects from them. Bob’s Burgers isn’t much different from other shows H. Jon Benjamin has starred in. At least there’s somewhat of a difference between, say, Dino Stamatopoulos’ Moral Orel and Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.

  • Lucy

    Oh. Oh dear GOD. I thought it was almost 2004 again and I’d have to go back to high school…. Thankfully that’s not so….

    ….I think it’s maybe a little bit of a strange move to make the TV show so long after the initial film, but impressive getting the original cast back. I never got into the movie, but I still wish luck to everyone who put work into making this : )

  • Live action or animated, Rex Kwan Do never fails to make me laugh. I liked the movie, so I’ll give the animated series a shot.

    Let’s see: Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons, Allen Gregory, and this against Family Guy, American Dad, Cleveland Show, and Flinstones reboot. So Animation Domination is now half-McFarlane, half-everything else. I can live with that.

    (Oh and for the record, I still think that whole “end of creator driven animation” shlock is a bowl of s**t.)

    • Funkybat

      Makes me wonder if Fox is planning to start their Sunday lineup at 7pm every Sunday, or if they are going to spread the shows out over two nights a week. I’m glad to see so many animated shows aimed at primetime, but it would be nice if they were not ALL on Sunday.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Looks OK. Not great, but looks ok. :}

  • Bruce wright

    I thought it was really funny. Looks great to me!

    The designs look good. If it has a Daria vibe, that’s good to me. I laughed.

  • Tony C

    Nothing good can come of this.

  • Graham

    I smell a mid-season cancellation ahead. Unlike other short-lived shows on FOX, though, this will be a rare case of it being a GOOD thing.

  • Napoleon’s forehead appears to be deliberately blurred out in a few shots. Is there some kind of product placement or obscene message on there?

    • I think it’s a plot-related incident. There’s a scene later where Pedro is pouring something on his forehead in a bathroom.

  • Anthony D.

    I’m not a fan, but I wish this show luck.

  • It might be all right – I’d give it a watching or two before passing judgement, definitely.

    I just wonder if the funny moments will translate as well animated. I think what made ND quirky was that it was live action, and seeing the actors so stiff and awkward was part of the charm.

  • DB

    Count me in as one of the ‘lovers’ of the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

    I actually think its potentially a good premise for an animated series – but what I saw in the clip looks absolutely horrible and unfortunately will probably tarnish the movie somewhat.

    I agree with the poster/s above who speculate that the likely crappiness of how this idea was executed at the feet of Mike Scully.

  • Annie Mation

    I love Napoleon Dynamite, but do we really need an animated series?

  • Sean D.

    I love Napoleon Dynamite, and I heartily welcome an animated series. More adventures with these fricken’ sweet characters? Sign me up!

    The animation looks fine and the jokes in the clip are working for me. What do you guys expect, a miracle?

  • CC

    Reminds me of the animated series of Bob and Doug Mckenzie, which also, I think, didn’t work. There is a reason these existed first as live-action.

  • It looks like it took like three hours to do the shading on the upper lips.

  • Well…I thought that was funny. I’ll tune-in to the first episode.

  • Keegan

    Is it just me, or does the art-style look A LOT like Disney’s Recess?

  • tonma

    Design: generic as heck.
    New stuff: None that I could tell.
    Voice: Weird, but I don’t think Heder souds a lot like napoleon here.
    Animation: Laaaazy.
    Color design: None, as usual lately.
    Demographic: Very narrow I think, the movie is hit or miss and this will also be.

  • tonma

    BY THE WAY, I’m out now to take a look at the bunches of ¡¡GOOD!! Napoleon Dynamite caricatures the web holds. Fun times.

  • Timanim

    I don’t get it. Why are people complaining about character designs and animation?

    They’re not making this show for animators and artists. They’re making this show for everyone else. King of the Hill had pretty generic designs, with really boring animation but it still worked. It probably made sense to be live action rather than animated too! But you know what, it still worked. In my opinion it’s the best adult-oriented cartoon in a while.

    C’mon everyone, you know shows like these rely on writing rather than design. When was the last time someone praised a Simpsons episode for its character design? Or Southpark’s animation? It just has to be an accessible design that gets the job done, Which I think these are doing.

    • Keegan

      Yeah guys, why should animated shows have good animation?!

  • The Gee

    “King of the Hill had pretty generic designs, with really boring animation but it still worked. It probably made sense to be live action rather than animated too!”

    Re-watch some episodes. Pay attention to “camera” angles, the acting and some of the more absurd situations. There’s a lot in the show which just couldn’t be done using actors and shooting it live action.

    Maybe this show will be like that on a bunch of different levels. But, it was already done as live action first so…why bother? It’d make more money if it were live action…but, I guess this is about making art, not money.

  • Metallicfire

    Drawing style reminds me of Recess. Which, in my opinion, makes it even more unsettling.

  • Alissa

    Is there still even a fanbase for that movie? I haven’t seen any ‘vote for Pedro’ shirts in ages.

  • Nick Name

    Jeez, I’ve already forgotten this show, and I just watched the trailer.

  • In order for this to work, the writing will need to be stellar. So much of the success of the live-action was due to the subtleties in character facial expressions.

    I’ll definitely give it a try while making myself a dang quesadilla and hope for the best.

  • Jimr

    Hey! I hear there’s going to be an American Dad Live Action feature as well as “King of the Hill”. Remember that Star belly machine from the Dr Suess “Sneetches” book? I fill like we are seeing the same show, different format.

  • Hal

    Whatever keeps BOB’S BURGERS on the air – that show’s just great. Oh wait, BOB’S BURGERS is getting pushed back to mid-season for this? Screw.

  • Gus

    Heck yes!! I loved that movie! I think it’ll be rad and unique than all the shows from nowadays. I’d definitely watch it :)

    Most people must’ve hated the movie cuz it didn’t have the humor that others movie do like hurting and “slang” and whatnot..that stuff is too mainstream!

    It was just a typical teenager in his highschool days :p which made it rad

    You people wouldn’t’s a hipster thing :p

    But yeah..Napoleon Dynamite Rules!!! ☆