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23 May 2007, 02:20 AM    #1
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American actor Jon Heder was studying 3-D animation at Brigham Young University when he
met Jared Hess, the director who would make his a familiar face. Hess cast Heder in his
short film Peluca, and then in his full-length feature film Napoleon Dynamite. At 27,
Heder had never appeared in a movie before, but the surprise success of the film gave him
instant notoriety. Napoleon Dynamite was a quirky, low-budget comedy about a nerdy
high-schooler in an outdated small town in rural Idaho. Heder's dead-on characterization
struck a chord with audiences and the small, independent film became a huge hit, raking in
over 44 million dollars and winning the MTV Movie Award for Best Movie. Heder personally
took home two awards from the ceremony himself, one for Breakthrough Male Performance, and
one for Best Musical Performance, for his election dance. 

Heder took a role in the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Just Like Heaven the next year,
playing the slacker sidekick Darryl. He had an obvious knack for comedy, and so for his
next project he starred alongside David Spade and Rob Schneider in the frat boy comedy The
Benchwarmers. Heder also lent his voice to the animated film Monster House and signed on
to appear in the Todd Phillips remake of School for Scoundrels.

Of those three films, Benchwarmers hit audiences first, in spring 2006. Described by one
prominent critic as Revenge of the Nerds with an increased fart quotient and added
projectile vomiting, this dumb-dumb frat comedy cast Heder, Spade and Schneider as a trio
of losers who form a baseball team to thwart a bunch of elementary school bullies; Heder
plays a booger-eating dork with an unhealthy degree of maternal attachment The press
trashed the film, and unsurprisingly, it scored at the box, grossing in excess of $65
million. Heder scored better on all fronts by voicing Reginald "Skull" Skulinski in the
Steven Spielberg-produced, CG-animated family film Monster House, a spooky and funny romp
about a home that begins devouring trick-or-treaters, and the three youngsters who set out
to stop it.

The November 2006 release School for Scoundrels returned Heder to live-action material. In
that picture - a remake of the 1960 British comedy classic by director Robert Hamer --
Heder plays yet another variation on his Napoleon Dynamite character- this one as Roger, a
socially maladroit, backward meter reader who enrolls in a confidence-building course
taught by Machiavellian teacher Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton), to gain the confidence to sway
the girl of his dreams - and ends up faced with the prof's nasty scheme to win the lass
for himself. Unfortunately, the film (helmed by Old School director Todd Phillips) not
only received a critical drubbing, but only reeled in about $20 million at the box office
- a pithy sum.

As 2007 dawned, {$Heder struck gold by starring opposite Will Ferrell in the SNL
funnyman's latest buddy comedy, Blades of Glory. The two portray bellicose figure skaters
stripped of their medals when they get into a much-publicized brawl at the Olympics; the
men subsequently decide to reattain their old glory by re-entering the Olympic competition
as a figure skating pair. In a most unusual turn of events, the picture not only received
innumerable outstanding reviews in the press, but became the top box office grosser of its
weekend. Later that year, Heder voiced a surfing penguin (Chicken Joe) in the CG-animated
family comedy Surf's Up and moved into slightly deeper and more challenging onscreen
material with the Warner Independent comedy-drama Mama's Boy. In that film, directed by
neophyte Tim Hamilton, Heder plays a zero who must reinvestigate his goals and priorities
when his single mother (Diane Keaton) takes a self-help guru (Jeff Daniels) as her new
beau. The studio slated Mama's Boy for limited stateside release in late June 2007.

~ Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

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