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LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK: Napoleon Dynamite

LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK:  Napoleon Dynamite (photo)

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Before I take a look back at the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, let it be known that I am a fan of the film. The high school scenes, especially–everything from the lunchroom banter, the awkwardly dressed students, and the tater-tot-smashing bullies–felt more realistic than any made-for-Hollywood movie you’ll ever see. And even though Napoleon Dynamite (2004) was paced like an art-house flick, it had enough gags, humor, quotable lines, and–most important–heart, to one day become a film with a mass cult following.

Unfortunately, once the film starting getting positive attention; Vote For Pedro shirts, key chains, coffee mugs, and talking action figures made their way to the shelves of Spencer’s gift stores all across the malls of America. If this happened ten years down the line I’d be totally fine with it, but you can’t market a movie as a cult film until it actually becomes a cult film. It’s like taking a bunch of grapes, smashing ’em in a bottle, and calling it wine. Wine becomes great over time; same goes for a cult movie.

The soundtrack for Napoleon Dynamite was compiled in the same manner. Instead of featuring 11 tracks–standard fare for a movie soundtrack–the album also includes 16 instrumental tracks from John Swihart, who scored the film, and 15 additional tracks of movie quotes–that’s 42 flippin’ tracks! For a soundtrack bursting at the seems, it’s a little disappointing that one of the film’s most memorable songs “Music For a Found Harmonium” wasn’t included (although I’m sure licensing fees could have played a part in that).

Back to the composer of the film’s soundtrack, John Swihart. I’m not pointing any fingers–no, actually, I am going to point fingers. Listen to track #19 (of 42) on the album, Money Mark’s “Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone.” Now listen to Swihart’s original compositions. Sound very familiar, don’t they? Swihart’s songs sound so much like Money Mark’s signature stylings, that following the film’s release, Money Mark said he got countless voice and text messages from friends congratulating him on doing the score for Napoleon Dynamite. Maybe he and Elvis Costello–who had used the alias, Napoleon Dynamite, years earlier–should have filed a joint grievance.

If the soundtrack to Napoleon Dynamite kept true to the sincerity and simplicity of its film we would have been left with 11 tracks–a quality mix of 80’s goodies, electro-pop, and the funk-tastic “Canned Heat” from Jamiroquai. The crowning achievement of the soundtrack though, is re-introducing When In Rome’s “The Promise” to a whole new generation of kids. The only problem is that a mystery track is attached to the end of the song–Kipp’s wedding tune, “Always and Forever”–not ideal when you’re assembling mixtapes or playlists, especially when the humor of the latter song has long since worn out.

Napoleon Dynamite, the film, always felt more Idaho than Hollywood. Too bad the same can’t be said about its soundtrack and the merchandising blitz that followed its first batch of positive reviews.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…