Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Napoleon Dynamite

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
9 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG

Starring:
Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite
Jon Gries as Uncle Rico
Aaron Ruell as Kip
Efren Ramirez as Pedro
Diedrich Bader as Rex
Tina Majorino as Deb
Sandy Martin as Grandma
Haylie Duff as Summer
Trevor Snarr as Don
Shondrella Avery as LaFawnduh
Bracken Johnson as Randy
Carmen Brady as Starla
Ellen Dubin as Ilene

Special Features:
Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon

Five Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon

Still gallery

Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon

"The Making of the Wedding of the Century" featurette

MTV On-Air promos

Other Info:
Widescreen 1.85:1 and Fullscreen 1.33:1
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Napoleon Dynamite is a new kind of hero, complete with a tight red 'fro, sweet moon boots, and skills that can't be topped. Napoleon spends his days drawing mythical beasts, duking it out with his brother, Kip, and avoiding his scheming Uncle Rico. When two new friends enter Napoleon's life - shy Deb and mustachioed Pedro - the trio launches a campaign to elect Pedro for class president and make the student body's wildest dreams come true. But if Pedro is to beat stuck-up Summer, Napoleon will have to unleash his secret weapon...."

Napoleon Dynamite is rated PG for thematic elements and language.

The Movie:
I've devised a simple test to see if you'd be interested in seeing Napoleon Dynamite. Read the following quotes from the film:

(Napoleon's Geeky Brother) "Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter."

(Napoleon to the New Kid) "You know, there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff."

(Napoleon's Pick Up Line) "I see you're drinking 1% milk. Is that because you think you're fat? Because you're not. You could probably be drinking whole milk."

(Napoleon's Dating Theory) "Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills..."

If any of these quotes made you even smile, then you're probably going to enjoy Napoleon Dynamite. Like any good cult film, this movie is full of quotable quotes. The humor is very off the wall and varies between being over the top and very subtle. Napoleon Dynamite is similar to Rushmore in that both films have a sly sense of humor and they both feature oddball teens surviving in school, but that's about where the comparison ends. Napoleon is an icon for anyone that was not cool in high school, is familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, or wore moon boots. What amazes me is that they were able to make this hilarious film and still keep it at a PG rating.

Jon Heder is wonderful as Napoleon Dynamite. The guy is so weird that you start to wonder how much of the character really is in Heder. From the bad hair to the nasal breathing to the habitual lying, Napoleon is so incredibly annoying yet you are drawn to the character at the same time. You feel guilty for laughing at him, but at the same time I think everyone can identify with some part of the character in one way or another. The rest of the supporting cast is also fantastic. Jon Gries is perfect as Uncle Rico, the dumb jock stuck in his glory days of high school. He's as geeky as his nephews, but he just doesn't seem to realize it. While Napoleon is a parody of geeks everywhere, Uncle Rico is the parody of the dumb jock whose time has come and gone. Then you have Aaron Ruell as Kip, Napoleon's older brother. If anyone epitomizes the wimpy internet geek, it's Kip. His online romance with LaFawnduh ends up being one of the funnier surprises of the film. Then there's the practically comatose Efren Ramirez as Pedro. His run for class president ends up driving the plot. Tina Majorino (from Corrina, Corrina) rounds out the main cast as Deb, a girl so shy, quiet, and geeky that she can't help but be attracted to Napoleon. Go figure.

There are a lot of short, funny gags in the movie. There's a whole scene with Napoleon in an FFA milk tasting contest that's amusing. Then there's a funny moment where a farmer shoots a cow in front of a bus load of children. One favorite of mine was a bit with a genuine time machine that left our heroes walking a little funny. It just goes on and on, but you get the picture. There's going to be something in this film that you identify with and find hilarious.

Napoleon Dynamite is just a really fun, quirky film that's well worth checking out. It will speak to your inner geek. By the way, make sure you watch the DVD all the way through the credits to see an extra wedding scene between Kip and LaFawnduh.

The Extras:
There are a number of bonus features included on the DVD. Here are the highlights:

Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon - This commentary is pretty good. You find out that Jared Hess based a lot of the moments in the film on his own childhood experiences. You also learn a lot about what the actors did to contribute to the film behind the scenes. If you enjoyed the movie you'll probably find this commentary worth listening to. If nothing else you'll get to hear what Jon Heder really sounds like.

Five Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon In one of the deleted scenes Napoleon eyes the brown suit at the secondhand store with Pedro. The two hide the suit in the store until Napoleon can get some money. They then go to the convenience store and try to buy a lottery ticket. Another deleted scene shows Napoleon playing kick ball in school and facing off with a bully. His ninja sucker-slap works pretty well there. Another scene shows Napoleon fishing, catching a small fish, and drop-kicking it back in a pond. As you can see there's more Napoleon sweetness in these deleted scenes.

"Peluca" short film with optional Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon This is kind of the prequel to Napoleon Dynamite. Many of the scenes in this black and white short take place in the Napoleon Dynamite film. Heder plays a Dynamite-like character named "Seth" and two guys play a character similar to Pedro. It's easy to see how they expanded the Napoleon Dynamite film from this.

"The Making of the Wedding of the Century" featurette This is a short 4 minute video showing how the cast reunited to film the wedding scene between Kip and LaFawnduh. It's quite amazing to see all the actors and actresses being themselves instead of the quirky characters from the movie. You even see Jon Heder take a spill from the horse.

MTV On-Air promos There were a number of commercials run on MTV promoting Napoleon Dynamite and they are included here. They highlight each of the characters from the film and wrap up with a few new scenes shot in LA. Napoleon and Pedro are shown fishing in a ditch and are shown asking a hotel operator where he can find a Liger.

The Bottom Line:
Gosh! Napoleon Dynamite is sweet! You'd have to be an idiot not to check it out. It'll probably win, like, an infinity of awards.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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