Napoleon Dynamite (2004) Special Edition

by | May 30, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) Special Edition

Starring: Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez
Director: Jared Hess
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Video: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16:9 color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Surround French & Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Captioned
Extras: Disc 1 – Audio commentary by Director & co-writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon; Cast commentary; Disc 2 – “World Premiere Jared Hess”; “On Location: Napoleon Dynamite;” Deleted & extended scenes with commentary; New outtakes and more extended/alternate scenes; Audition clips, Napoleon & Pedro sightings; “Peluca” original short film with optional commentary; Making of… featurette: “The Wedding of the Century!”; MTV On-air promo spots; Still photo gallery; more…
Length: Feature – 94 minutes
Rating: ****

Don’t let the new cover art of this latest edition throw you – the flick is not called Vote For Pedro. This often hilarious look at painful adolescence in a nowhere town in Idaho has become a cult favorite, and not just among young people.  At the beginning it seems not that different from a typical boring-to-adults sitcom aimed at the younger generation.  But then as you get to know the various quirky characters and quirky situations you become more involved, ending up rooting strongly for poor Napoleon to overcome his terminal nerdiness and be a success in his high school. Everything is almost excruciatingly realistic on one level and may cause squirming in the viewer recalling similar high school incidents in his or her life.  On another level the unexpected is always just around the corner and the outrageous twists of the plot bring on hilarity.

We don’t learn what happened to Napoleon’s parents, but he lives with his grandmother (a secret off-road motorcyclist) and his 32-year-old non-working brother Kip, who spends all his time on Internet chat rooms.  When grandma breaks her coccyx and is in hospital for a while, his weird uncle Rico comes to take over, and becomes a Tupperware-style salesman to make some money. Napoleon is besieged by bullies at school and his only friends are a rather slow and strange Mexican boy named Pedro and Deb, who seems to have her own makeshift photo portrait studio. Napoleon has no plans and realizes he lacks skills that would attract the girls and raise his standing with the other kids. Together with Pedro he plots ways they can both use the few skills they have, and amazingly it works. At the same time brother Kip takes a major and surprising step to change his stuck situation.

It was a fun hour and a half, but I’m afraid I didn’t find it compelling enough to make it thru all the various extras on the second disc, or to listen to the commentary tracks with the movie. But they’re there for those who want to access them. The transfer looked great and the sound was serviceable but never made real use of the surround facility.

– John Sunier


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