Napoleon Dynamite 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Review
The film opens on a lanky young man with curly reddish blond hair and old aviator style glasses. He squints as the camera pulls back, revealing a t-shirt tucked into his jeans, and his jeans tucked into snow boots even though it is clearly very hot outside. He squints (or are his eyes closed) and opens his Trapper Keeper as the school bus pulls up to his house. So begins one of the strangest and most unique films of my lifetime, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE; a slice of life, a comedic kick in the pants, a story of a strange boy-out-of-time living through his nightmare of high school.
For both myself and others, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE came out of nowhere. For about three years following the release, it was the one movie everyone wanted to be ‘the one who discovered’ – you would go to a friend’s house and they would say ‘Have you ever seen NAPOLEON DYNAMITE?” Then you would either watch it or talk about it, laugh, share quotes and talk about it some more. That is the reason I love movies. The reason I love writing and talking about them, spending time with friends plotting what and when the next great one will be, hoping for it every time I hit play or sit down in the theater.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE encapsulates the promise of film to me. Ten years after its initial release and I honestly thought I never needed to see it again. I was wrong. Ten years later, I receive the movie for review, get to watch it again on a lark, and there I am again seeing it again for the first time. Five minutes in, ten minutes, and I’m lost once again for the first time, experiencing it all once again. Almost entirely unknown, the cast took the world by storm with their near caricature performances that captured the subtle cruelty and gentle beauty that IS high school for many of us.
In that ten years I’ve tried to make sense of the movie. What is the reason NAPOLEON DYNAMITE touched so many people on such a primal level? The answer, I think, is more simple than we realize. The subtle humor, the mumbled dialogue… even though Napoleon does and says things, at times, that are beyond our lives… he encapsulates us. He brings the world together in a simple way, the film culminating with the scene in which Napoleon dances and finally lets go of all the things that have been holding him back from his classmates, his school, even his family.
It’s a well-paced film made on a micro-budget that still managed to touch an incredible number of people. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is, quite simply, a movie about growing up and taking risks and laughing when we make mistakes. This Blu-ray release would be considered the ultimate in fan service (I’ve been overwhelmed to the point of catatonia by the pages and pages of special features) if it weren’t for the fact that these features were ALL included on the initial Blu-ray release in 2009. That makes this new, special packaging more than a little disappointing, but it doesn’t change the magic that takes place on the screen. Check this one out again, soon, if you haven’t recently. And if you’ve never seen it give it a shot. Definitely worth your time.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE 10TH ANNIVERSARY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.85:1) The video presentation of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is very nice in HD but never quite gets past the extremely low budget on which it was shot… there is only so much up-scaling can do for a film made like this.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The lossless audio track is presented beautifully so you will catch every mumbled phrase throughout NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Well done.
Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, Actor Jon Heder and Producer Jeremy Coon (01:34:54) The more impressive commentary crew deliver a fairly interesting track on the making of the film, choices in casting and filming, and lots of behind the scenes tidbits, but the gem on NAPOLEON DYMANITE is the next track…
Cast Commentary with Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries, and Tina Majorino (01:34:54) Though this commentary track might seem a bit stranger featuring the supporting cast but it’s actually quite a bit more interesting than the other commentary track on NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. These folks all sit together in a room and watch the movie and really give us some insight into their characters, their work on the film, and what it ultimately meant for them.
World Premiere Jared Hess (43:29) An intensely personal home video featuring director/co-writer Jared Hess from the Sundance Film Festival premiere of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.
Deleted and Extended Scenes These scenes (included in the initial blu-ray release of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) include optional commentary with Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, Actor Jon Heder, and Producer Jeremy Coon. Scenes include: 2nd Locker Room; Holy Chip; Extended Thrift Store/Lotto Ticket; Kickball & Outtakes Montage #1; Current Event (extended scene); Chapstick (extended scene); Nupont Fiber-Woven Bowls; Time Machine Scene (extended); Kip’s Love Poem (outtakes); Outtakes Montage #2; Lord of the Dance
Casting NAPOLEON DYNAMITE – An Interview with Jory Weitz gives a lot of great detail about putting together the cast for this extremely low budget picture and gives a little explanation as to HOW they got an incredible casting director for NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.
Audition Videos The audition videos from several of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE’s key players are presented here, including: Tina Majorino (Deb); Efren Ramirez (Pedro); Haylie Duff (Summer)
PELUCA The 2002 short film/inspiration for NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is included on this incredibly bonus-laden Blu-ray. Includes optional commentary with Hess, Heder, and Coon. This is worth every moment of other extra features. You’ve got to check it out.
Napoleon Sightings – And Pedro
Includes: Clips from TRL, Courtesy MTV; “Tankman Begins” clip from 2005 MTV Movie Awards; Opening of SNL with Jon Heder; 2004 Teen Choice Awards Skit; 2005 Teen Choice Awards “Hissy Fit Award”; Spelling Bee;
Utah State Fair Ads/TV Spots – 3 television ads are included on the NAPOLEON DYNAMITE Blu-ray.
The Wedding of the Century
MTV On-Air Promos – 7 promotional videos from MTV airing to get word out that NAPOLEON DYNAMITE was a movie worth seeing.
Napoleon Goes to Hollywood Spots – An additional six spots are included here with NAPOLEON DYNAMITE lead Jon Heder, in character, bringing the film to national audiences.