Jon Heder has been around the acting world since he appeared in a handful of short films in the early 2000s, but he came to global attention after making his feature-length movie debut in 2004's Napoleon Dynamite.
Since then, he's appeared in more than 30 films, in various television and web series, and dabbled in voicing video game characters and producing.
In this piece, we'll list Heder's 22 best films up to the finest one for your reading pleasure.
1 – When in Rome (2010, directed by Mark Steven Johnson)
When in Rome is a rom-com about an ambitious young New York woman who's perenially unlucky in love. Then, while in Rome for her sister's wedding, she impulsively steals coins from a supposed “fountain of love” and gets relentlessly pursued by several potential suitors.
It has an impressive cast, including Kristen Bell as the unlucky-in-love Elizabeth “Beth” Martin, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito, Anjelica Huston, Kate Micucci, and Heder, who plays Lance, a street magician who uses his tricks in an attempt to woo Beth, and he does fine. When in Rome is not as funny as it should be, given its premise and cast, but Bell and Duhamel are charming enough to make it watchable.
2 – Walt Before Mickey (2015, directed by Khoa Le)
Walt Before Mickey is a biographical drama movie based on Timothy S. Susanin's 2011 non-fiction book Walt Before Mickey: Disney's Early Years, 1919-1928. It chronicles Walt Disney's early years in business, during which he started various companies.
It's an ambitious movie, but its blatantly low budget is a massive hindrance. It stars Thomas Ian Nicholas as Walt Disney, and Heder plays Roy Disney, Walt's older brother who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with him. They both do okay, considering the budgetary constraints. Walt Before Mickey tells an exciting story; it just doesn't do it justice. It would be fine as a television film, but for a cinematic production, it disappoints.
3 – School for Scoundrels (2006, directed by Todd Phillips)
School for Scoundrels is a comedy and a loose remake of the 1960 British movie. It's about an unlucky young man who enrolls in a confidence-building class to help him get the girl of his dreams, but things get complicated when he discovers his teacher's agenda is the same as his.
Its talented cast includes Billy Bob Thornton as Dr. P, the teacher, Jacinda Barrett, Luis Guzmán, David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Heder as Roger, the unlucky guy. They all do adequate jobs, and Heder is likable and suitably awkward. School for Scoundrels is sometimes funny but very formulaic and doesn't get the best out of its stars.
4 – Life Happens (2011, directed by Kat Coiro)
Life Happens is a comedy movie about a woman living with two roommates in Los Angeles, California, who gets pregnant from a one-night stand and turns to her friends for help and support.
The core cast of this one includes Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth, and Rachel Bilson, and support comes from the likes of Geoff Stults, Justin Kirk, Jason Biggs, and Kristen Johnston. Heder has a small role as a wrong number caller. Life Happens is intelligent, well-written, and amusing, and the leads have great chemistry.
5 – My Dad Is Scrooge (2014, directed by Justin G. Dyck)
My Dad Is Scrooge is a Christmas fantasy family comedy movie and a loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. In the film, a group of talking animals help two siblings stage the classic tale to shock their grumpy father into embracing the holiday spirit.
It's a sweet, silly film full of Christmas spirit, and its young stars perform admirably. Heder voices Raffi, a hypnotic rat, and is very funny. My Dad is Scrooge feels like a cheaply-made television movie, but it's fun and ideal for watching on a cold, lazy December Sunday afternoon.
6 – Surf's Up 2: WaveMania (2017, directed by Henry Yu)
Surf's Up 2: WaveMania is a computer-animated direct-to-video comedy movie and the sequel to 2007's Surf's Up. It's about an adventurous penguin who convinces a famous big wave-riding crew to accompany him to an iconic surfing location with the largest waves in the world.
It's a joint production between Sony Pictures Animation and WWE Studios, so it features the voices of several wrestling stars, including John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H, Paige, Michael Cole, and Vince McMahon. The main cast includes Jeremy Shada, Melissa Sturm, Diedrich Bader, and Heder, who humorously voices Chicken Joe. Surf's Up 2: WaveMania is entertaining enough for children, especially young wrestling fans, and it has some funny moments, but it lacks anything resembling creativity or intelligence.
7 – Bling (2017, directed by Kyung Ho Lee and Wonjae Lee)
Bling is a South Korean computer-animated sci-fi action movie about a lowly theme park mechanic who teams up with robot superheroes after a villain steals his ring.
The voice cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Jennette McCurdy, James Woods, Carla Gugino, Tom Green, and Jason Mewes. Heder adeptly voices a robot called Wilmer. It's a little overacted, but Bling will keep younger children happy with its fluffy, sweet, romantic tale mixed with superhero action. However, there are undeniably far superior animated films out there.
8 – Pinocchio (2012, directed by Enzo D'Alò)
Pinocchio is an Italian animated movie based on Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. It tells the familiar story of a puppet who comes to life and experiences various adventures trying to become a real human boy.
It's a stunning reimagining of the classic family tale. Pinocchio has an important message, beautiful animation, and engaging and likable characters. Heder's role in this one only comes in the 2018 American release, in which he voices Leo the Cat as well as you'd expect him to.
9 – Weepah Way for Now (2015, directed by Stephen Ringer)
Weepah Way for Now is a comedy-drama movie about two performing sisters living together on the cusp of adulthood, making do with their chosen life, and experiencing stress about throwing a going away party.
Heder, as Ernie, has a minor, almost insignificant role and does okay. The main characters, Elle and Joy, are played maturely by real-life sisters Aly Michalka and AJ Michalka. Weepah Way for Now is an emotional film that feels like real life. It has some tonal shifts that can feel jarring, but it maintains its heart throughout and has some humorous and uplifting feel-good moments.
10 – Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020, directed by Don Michael Paul)
Tremors: Shrieker Island is a comedy monster horror movie and the seventh installment in the Tremors franchise. In the film, a group of hunters genetically modify Graboid eggs and face off against the massive, terrifyingly intelligent, quickly multiplying resulting creatures.
Heder stars as Jimmy alongside franchise veteran Michael Gross, who reprises his role as Burt Gummer from the previous films. Both men do a great job. Tremors: Shrieker Island is a B-movie romp to be proud of and a welcome resuscitation of the Tremors series. It's action-packed, hilariously funny, and has a surprisingly emotional climax.
11 – The Sasquatch Gang (2006, directed by Tim Skousen)
The Sasquatch Gang is a comedy movie about a young sci-fi fan and his pals who find giant footprints in the forest, resulting in an investigation into the existence of the sasquatch and the young man's dim-witted neighbors devising a scheme to profit from the situation.
Heder has a minor role as a laser tag referee and performs adequately. The main cast of Jeremy Sumpter, Justin Long, and Joey Kern do great. The Sasquatch Gang is a funny film with unique characters it's easy to love and some who are easy to hate. It's an enjoyable movie about friendship with quotable lines, a great depiction of teen angst, and some fun fantasy elements.
12 – Legend of a Rabbit (2011, directed by Sun Yijun)
Legend of a Rabbit — released in the United States as Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit — is a Chinese computer-animated action-adventure movie about a white rabbit pancake chef who is telepathically given the ultimate kung fu power by a monkey kung fu master on the condition that he defeats the master's nemesis.
It's a blatant rip-off of Kung Fu Panda. Heder voices Fu, the white rabbit, and is joined in the English dub by Rebecca Black, Tom Arnold, and Michael Clarke Duncan. They all do a fine job. Legend of a Rabbit is a sweet film that will keep you invested with its story and characters, but it lacks the action, humor, and technical achievement of the franchise it so obviously copies.
13 – Just Like Heaven (2005, directed by Mark Waters)
Just Like Heaven is a rom-com fantasy-adventure movie based on Marc Levy's 1999 French novel If Only It Were True. It's about a lonely landscape architect who moves into a new apartment and falls for the spirit of the beautiful woman who previously lived there.
Mark Ruffalo plays David, the architect, and Reese Witherspoon plays Elizabeth, the woman he falls for. They make a good duo. Heder plays Darryl, a psychic bookstore clerk who helps David and informs him Elizabeth is in a coma. He's charming in the role. Just Like Heaven is a sweet movie with a dreamy tone, and while it's not laugh-out-loud funny, it has good characters and is well-written.
14 – Reality (2014, directed by Quentin Dupieux)
Reality is a French-Belgian surreal comedy-drama movie about a wannabe director who's given one condition to have his film financed: he must find the best groan of pain in cinema history, one worthy of an Academy Award, within 48 hours.
It's a strange film following characters who appear in each other's dreams-within-dreams of movies about dreams. Those characters include Heder's Dennis, a cooking show host with an imaginary skin rash, who he plays with the necessary bizarreness. Reality is hilarious at times, disturbing at other times, and one continuous mind-melting experience. Overall, it's intriguing and probably what it feels like to go insane.
15 – Huevos: Little Rooster's Egg-cellent Adventure (2015, directed by Gabriel Riva Palacio Alatriste and Rodolfo Riva Palacio Alatriste)
Huevos: Little Rooster's Egg-cellent Adventure is a Mexican-American 3D computer-animated comedy-adventure movie, the sequel to 2009's Another Movie about Eggs and a Chick, and the third installment in the Huevos franchise. It's about a timid young chick born as the runt of his litter who stands up for what he loves when an evil rancher threatens his home and family.
Heder voices Mickey Mallard in the English dub, a talking duck egg known as Patín Patán in the original Spanish version, and is appropriately funny. Huevos: Little Rooster's Egg-cellent Adventure is an amusing film that might not be suitable for younger children, given some of its adult humor. Still, it's bright, colorful, full of heart, and genuinely weird in a good way.
16 – For Ellen (2012, directed by So Yong Kim)
For Ellen is a drama movie about a struggling musician's fight with his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter. The film follows him on a long-distance overnight drive to divorce her and stake his legal claim.
Paul Dano plays Joby Taylor, the musician, and the cast also includes Jena Malone, Dakota Johnson, and Heder, who plays Fred Butler, an inexperienced but sensible lawyer in an excellently adept fashion. For Ellen is a heartbreaking and emotional film littered with subtle humor. It's aesthetically pleasing, with some lovely landscapes on show, and Dano is superb.
17 – The Tiger Hunter (2016, directed by Lena Khan)
The Tiger Hunter is a comedy movie about a young Indian man who relocates to Chicago to become an engineer in the late 1970s. He resorts to an elaborate scheme with misfit friends when he loses his job to win over his childhood sweetheart.
Danny Pudi plays Sami Malik, the young Indian man, and Heder plays Alex Womack, the son of the owner of the electronics company Sami works for. The pair become friends, and the actors perform well, with good chemistry. The Tiger Hunter is a great feel-good film that celebrates immigrants and has accurate and impressively non-stereotypical portrayals of different cultures. It's funny at times and has lots of heart.
18 – Blades of Glory (2007, directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon)
Blades of Glory is a sports comedy movie about a mismatched pair of banned rival figure skaters who become teammates when they learn of a loophole that allows them to compete in the sport again.
Heder stars as Jimmy MacElroy, one of the skaters, alongside Will Ferrell as Chazz Michael Michaels, the other one, and they make a hilarious pair. The supporting cast includes Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, William Fichtner, Jenna Fischer, Craig T. Nelson, Nancy Kerrigan, and Luke Wilson. Blades of Glory is energetic, well-performed, bags of fun with laugh-out-loud moments, and a brilliant spoof of inspirational sports dramas.
19 – Monster House (2006, directed by Gil Kenan)
Monster House is a computer-animated family comedy-horror movie about a sentient haunted house terrorizing a neighborhood during Halloween.
The excellent voice cast includes Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Willard, and Heder, who humorously voices supernatural expert Reginald “Skull” Skulinski. Monster House is a visually stunning, intelligent, funny, slightly scary movie that's a romp from beginning to end. It received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
20 – Surf's Up (2007, directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck)
Surf's Up is a computer-animated mockumentary movie taking a behind-the-scenes look at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship and its promising newest participant.
It has a great voice cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Mario Cantone, Diedrich Bader, and Heder, who does a fantastic job in his first outing as Chicken Joe. Surf's Up is received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature and is inventive, entertaining, lovely to look at, and utterly charming.
21 – When Jeff Tried to Save the World (2018, directed by Kendall Goldberg)
When Jeff Tried to Save the World is a comedy movie about the manager of a dilapidated old-school bowling alley who discovers the owner's plans to sell and tries to save it, which also means pulling himself out of the gutter.
Heder plays Jeff, the anxious manager of the bowling alley, and he leads the film superbly with an impressive but understated performance. When Jeff Tried to Save the World is a quiet, small-scale, lovely, inspiring movie with relatable characters, some funny moments, and impressive cinematography.
22 – Napoleon Dynamite (2004, directed by Jared Hess)
Napoleon Dynamite is a comedy movie about the eponymous geeky high school student. His eventful life sees him dealing with his quirky family, making friends with an immigrant who wants to be class president, and awkwardly embarking on a romance with an equally nerdy fellow student.
It's the first feature-length film Heder appeared in and remains his best. He plays the eponymous character and is simply delightful and genuinely weird in the most terrific way. The brilliant cast includes Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, and Diedrich Bader. Napoleon Dynamite is charming, funny, inspiring, and incredibly quirky, and it boasts some of the most intriguing characters you'll ever meet in a movie.