AMC - "American Movie Classics" - showed "Napoleon Dynamite" the other night. Now, why this film, released in 2004 to moderate success qualifies as an American classic is beyond me. However, I love the film, so he's flippin' sweet in my book.
On the surface, this is a ridiculously random film, following Napoleon through his high school experience of an awkward geek who loves ligers (a lion and tiger hybrid), befriends a new student from Mexico, bickers with his brother and uncle, and runs his friend Pedro's political campaign. It is just that randomness that is the hallmark of so many teenagers' lives. But it would be a mistake to simply see this as a silly, random teen movie.
This movie is about friendship and the true value that friendship carries. Napoleon believes in his friend Pedro - even though he is an outsider - the new kid, and a foreigner to boot - running for school president - which is more often a popularity contest anyway. The unflappable Napoleon will never give up on his friend, and there's nothing he won't do for him. When stuck for a "skit" as a sort of punctuation on his campaign speech, Pedro feels he has wasted his time. He exits, stage right, expecting to be the loser everyone thinks he is.
That's when the bumping sounds of Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat" are piped over the speakers, and a moonboot-clad Napoleon totally puts himself out there for his buddy. His moves stun, then delight the crowd, until the silence erupts with joyful applause. They would vote for Pedro.
His speech was pretty sad. He did not have charisma or the bubbly flair of his cheerleading opponent. Rather, he had something more important. He had a friend who was willing to completely lay it out for him in front of others - not for himself, but for the one he believed in. And that wins.
We too have that friend. Jesus is willing - has already done it. He laid himself on the line for us - not for Himself, but so that others can realize how wonderful we are - that we are worth God giving His all. This is what He wants us to know - that we are so valuable to God that He is willing to give His only Son - even to be ridiculed, mocked and killed - for our redemption. That is love.
And it makes me want to dance.