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Film / Napoleon (1995)

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Napoleon is an Australian musical family film released in 1995. Like Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, it is mainly live-action clips of animals with voiceover narration.

Muffin (voiced by Jamie Croft) is a golden retriever puppy who insists on being called Napoleon and wishes to be a brave wild dog. During a birthday party at his owner's house, he gets into a basket with balloons attached, and floats off into the Australian wilderness. Now he's on a big journey alongside a galah named Birdo (Philip Quast) to find the wild dogs.

The film was released Direct to Video in America by MGM (via their newly acquired Orion Pictures arm, which had the rights via their corporate sibling The Samuel Goldwyn Company/Goldwyn Entertainmentnote ) with a different voice cast, including Adam Wylie and Bronson Pinchot. It wasn't a big hit there, but it's gained a following.

Not to be confused with works about Napoléon Bonaparte (1927, 1955, 2002 and 2023 on this wiki).

This film provides examples of:

  • Animal Species Accent: Birdo talks with a high-pitched squawky voice like a parrot, and the frog speaks with a low croaky voice.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The idea that the cat was a pet who escaped to the wilderness, learned how to kill, and didn’t know when to stop seems like decent development until you realize that out of all domesticated animal species, cats are the most accustomed to killing and so the villain really had no motive for going crazy (unless it was due to the privations of the wilderness or the isolation).
  • Artistic License – Geography: Napoleon floats through the Sydney CBD and out over the harbour, being brought down on the beach of an island nearby. It first becomes clear (to Aussies, at least) that this trope is in effect when Napoleon meets a band of quokkas (native to WA), then treks through the snowfields (located 300km (160mi) from Sydney in north-eastern Victoria), followed immediately by a sugar-cane field (found in Central and Northern Queensland, a distance of over 2000km (1200mi) away). Then, it's compounded by the highway scene (central NSW) and the desert (South Australia).
  • Ax-Crazy: The Cat is stated multiple times to be psychotic to the point of violence.
  • Award-Bait Song: The end credits reprise of "How Far I'll Fly", performed by Rob Allison.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: Birdo helps Napoleon down from his basket this way.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Napoleon finally gets to live with the wild dogs. However, he misses his home and mother, and discovers that life in the wild doesn't have as much freedom as he thought it did, so he finds himself wanting to go home.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": The Cat yells this to Birdo when he denies her presence.
  • Break the Cutie: After Napoleon believes he left home and went on a dangerous journey for nothing, he finds himself mourning about it in the middle of the desert.
  • Cats Are Mean: The main antagonist is an insane feral cat who believes every animal she sees to be a mouse.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Right before the credits, we are treated to a shot revealing that the Cat is still out there and still wants to hunt Napoleon, thus ending the film on a cliffhanger.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Cat to Napoleon. Both are domestic animals that ran away from home to live in the wild. However, unlike Napoleon, the Cat has become violent and psychotic from being outside for so long.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Any time the Cat appears is accompanied by the sound of her growling in a disturbing way.
  • Ironic Echo: The Cat is about to attack Napoleon on a log overlooking a river, and mockingly asks him if he's afraid of water. She then falls in, and Napoleon says the exact same thing to her.
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: Napoleon goes on one during the second half of the film. He doesn't enjoy it much.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": A bird named Birdo, and a penguin named Pengy.
  • Meaningful Echo: While Napoleon is trying to climb up into a river bank, Birdo tells him to pull with his forelegs and push with his hind legs. Later, Napoleon says the same thing while rescuing the dingo pups from the flooded cave.
  • Meaningful Rename: Muffin changes his name to Napoleon to reflect his courage. Later, he meets a penguin named Pengy who changed his name to Conan for the same reason.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Napoleon finds out that the howling he's been following isn't made by wild dogs, but a monitor lizard doing random animal impressions, the scene is played for laughs. Napoleon's heartbroken emotional breakdown immediately afterwards isn't.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Muffin/Napoleon brags about being a brave wild dog, but is afraid of virtually everything, and can't even kill prey.
  • Noodle Incident: One of the penguins mentions something happening on a previous vacation in Alaska.
  • Protagonist Title: Played with in that the protagonist's original name is Muffin, and he changed it to the name we see in the title.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "How Far I'll Fly".
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Subverted. Napoleon discovers that the howling he's been following is actually a monitor lizard doing animal impressions, and believes his whole journey has been for nothing. However, it turns out there are wild dogs nearby.
  • She's a Man in Japan: In the French dub, the Cat is a male named Mephisto.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film's tagline is an homage to Star Trek, as shown on the poster.
    • The wild-dog pups are named ''Sid & Nancy".
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Napoleon has a fear of water that he eventually gets over with the help of Birdo.