Ligers, Llamas, and Nunchucks: Reviewing ‘Napoleon Dynamite: Impeach Pedro’
by Brendan M. Allen
The cult classic comedy returns in this graphic novel! Senior year is gonna be flippin’ sweet! Napoleon is dating Deb, training at a new dojo, and his best friend, Pedro, is student body president. But the good times might not last when a fellow student accuses Pedro of cheating in the election. Can Napoleon and Deb use their special skills to clear their friend before the principal can Impeach Pedro? Maybe, gosh, get off his back!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since Napoleon Dynamite hit the silver screen. A sleeper hit about an incredibly goofy, unpopular high school kid, trying to fit in as best he can. Napoleon lives with his older brother Kip, who’s potentially even more awkward than he is, and his gran. There’s Uncle Rico, the over-the-hill failed athlete who lives out of his camper van, and the new kid, Pedro. Napoleon spends much of the film getting Pedro elected as school president, upsetting the ridiculously popular cheerleader Summer Wheatley, who should have been a shoe-in.
Napoleon Dynamite: Impeach Pedro picks up at the beginning of the following school year. Pedro’s the sitting class president, and Napoleon and Deb serve as his brain trust. Unfortunately for Pedro, another student has accused him of cheating his way to victory. Now the principal is demanding a recount of last year’s votes, which for some reason is permissible a whole year later, without any formal chain of custody of the actual ballot box.
There’s also a murder investigation? Some city councilman kicked over, and there’s an investigative journalism team on campus grilling kids for some reason … about some low level politician’s demise.
Series writers Carlos Guzman-Verdugo and Alejandro Verdugo revisit a LOT of the gags from the 2004 film. Napoleon argues with his grandma over a quesa-dilla in the kitchen. Uncle Rico invests everything in a door-to-door scam. Napoleon plays tetherball alone. Napoleon drags a superhero action figure behind the school bus on a length of fishing line. Napoleon visits an MMA dojo with a questionable sensei. We’ve seen this before.
The dialogue and pacing feels very natural, which makes sense, since many of these scenes and conversations are lifted almost ver batim from the film.
There are some plot points that just don’t seem to track with what we already know about these kids. One of the things that sold the movie back in 2004 was the main characters’ naïveté, their blind innocence.
Pedro is kind of a dick in this book. He hides behind his cousins’ massive frames, and loses his cool several times. This isn’t the quiet, socially stunted goofball we love. This kid is suddenly talking about executive orders and ejecting kids from press conferences. It’s an odd leap.
At one point, Napoleon even grabs a smaller kid by the shirt and starts screaming in his face. In what world…?
Jorge Monlongo pulls art and color for the series. Monlongo’s character designs are very caricatured. Some of the players resemble their movie counterparts. Napoleon is reminiscent of Jon Heder and Pedro bears a passing resemblance to Efren Ramirez. The rest of the recurring characters don’t really have much of the actors in them.
One of my pet peeves in comics art is disembodied narrating floating heads. Napoleon Dynamite is chock full of floating heads. So many. And severed arms with too many elbows. And gravity defying floating buildings.
The heads, I get, sort of. It’s creepy and weird, but those arms. Maybe they’re included to give a first person point of view for some of the scenes. I don’t know. It just looks strange.
If you loved the film, you’d probably enjoy the first chapter in Impeach Pedro, and if you stretch the nostalgia really thin, maybe even the second chapter. This series clearly isn’t written for me, and I’m at a loss figuring out who it’s actually aimed at.
I was in my early twenties when the film hit. I realize I’m in the higher end of the target market, but if you count all the folks who saw this film for the first time in high school, they’re all in their mid thirties now.
The nostalgia isn’t strong enough to draw people my age in, and the callbacks make no sense to the current generation of kids, teens, and twenty somethings. Try as I may, I can’t see where this one fits.
Napoleon Dynamite: Impeach Pedro TP, IDW Publishing, 22 July 2020. Written by Carlos Guzman-Verdugo and Alejandro Verdugo, art/color/cover by Jorge Monlongo, design/letters by Christa Miesner.