Napoleon Dynamite [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andy James & Noor Razzak (4th March 2009).
The Film

Jared Hessí "Napoleon Dynamite" concerns the titular character, played by Jon Heder, doing... well, not much really. Heís basically a huge nerd, with a complete lack of social skills (so much so it would be easy to think him autistic), who lives with his grandma (Sandy Martin) and makes friends with the new, Mexican and impressively moustachioed kid in school, Pedro (Efren Ramirez).

Thatís really about it for plot. Well, Napoleon helps his new friend Pedro in his run for Student Body President Ė no doubt youíve seen the t-shirts. Thereís some questing after girls, but itís not really central to the film. It really is just about this strange kid named Napoleon hanging out with his friends and family.

There are few belly laughs to be had Ė youíll find yourself chuckling at most. But when the laughs come theyíre not really with the characters, more at them. Napoleon is a petulant young boy-man and youíll be hard-pressed to find any redeemable characters in the film. Napoleonís brother, Kip (Aaron Ruell) is a 30-something-years-old, still lives at home and cruises internet dating sites. Their Uncle Rico (Jon Gries) hassles them and is stuck in his football playing glory days. About the only decent person in the whole endeavour appears to be Pedro.

To be honest, thinking about it now, most of the film seems as empty as the surrounding desert. There are lines of quotable dialogue from the misfit cast but the film is happy to drift along with its title character, from situation to situation. Near the end of the third act we come to the ďBig Debate SceneĒ. Itís a scene that nearly saves the whole film - itís such a rare burst of energy from the otherwise slow moving film, you canít quite help getting caught up in it. For those few reading this review who have not yet seen the film, Iíll save the surprise. Just know itís there, and Iíll leave you to decide whether it was worth it.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 in HD 1080p 24/fps and mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression. Right off the bat you'll notice that this film displays color really well. It's a colorful film and the film's rich and deep palette is presented brilliantly. Skin tones look natural, blacks are bold and feature little to no noise, and grain is at a minimum despite the low budget of the film. I was impressed with the film's sharpness, depth and detail all of which is crisp. There are no flaws that I could find, no dirt, specks, edge-enhancement or compression related flaws. For a small comedy the image looks darn good in HD.

Audio

Fox has packed this disc with no less than six audio tracks, an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as Italian DTS 5.1 surround, Japanese DTS 5.1 surround as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track in French, Portuguese and Spanish. The film's image is solid, the soundtrack is equally solid but doesn't blow viewers away. To being with the film is a comedy which is dialogue based and includes some music cues, so the film isn't exactly complex in terms of it's audio requirements. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, the music is well mixed throughout the surround space and minor ambient sounds fill out the track. There's little base in the sub woofer channel and overall immersiveness isn't exactly achieved. Despite this it's an average track that does the trick but doesn't exactly impress.
Optional subtitles are included in English with hearing impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Extras

Fox has included two audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a short film, two documentaries, three featurettes, audition videos plus additional TV clips and promos. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is the feature-length audio commentary by actor Jon Heder, director/co-writer Jared Hess and editor Jeremy Coon. In this track we get a general sense of how the movie came together from the original short film concept to this feature, the participants comment on the various production challenges as it was a low budget film, the character and plot devices of the film that essentially propel the characters on their journeys. Hess talks about the production, technical issues, tone and style among other things in otherwise interesting track.

There's a second feature-length audio commentary by actors Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries and Tina Majorina. This is a much chattier track as the cast talk about their experiences on the film, there are no technical issues or production information revealed here other than the fact that they comment on working with each other, chat about the filming and reveal funny or interesting anecdotes about the process.

"World Premiere" A Jared Hess documentary runs for 43 minutes 29 seconds, follows the film's director as it sees it's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The director does an introduction before the screening to the audience and we follow the filmmaker through the entire release process leading up to the premiere and the preparation.

"On Location: Napoleon Dynamite" documentary runs for 41 minutes 35 seconds, and is a fairly linear look at the making of the film on location in Utah, there's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage as we get a close look at the process, shooting scenes and working with the director among other things.

There are a series of four deleted scenes which can be viewed with optional audio commentary by director/co-writer Jared Hess, editor Jeremy Coon and actor JJon Heder, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, they include:

- "2nd Locker Room Scene" runs for 45 seconds, an alternate locker room scene as Napoleon is hassled about being in the happy hands club.
- "Pedro Holy Chip Flashback" runs for 1 minute 8 seconds, Pedro has a flashback in the lunchroom about getting sick.
- "Extended Thrift Store Scene and La Tienda Lotto Ticket" runs for 3 minutes 15 seconds, an extended scene where the guys are looking for suits to wear.
- "Kickball Scene with Pedro and Napoleon Montage" runs for 2 minutes 39 seconds, Napoleon takes out a girl in kickball.

Also included are four Extended/Alternate Scenes, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, they include:

- "Current Event - Ext. Scene" runs for 55 seconds, Napoleon tells the class about Loch Ness.
- "Chapstick - Ext. Scene" runs for 1 minute 50 seconds, another version of the scene where Napoleon calls his brother about the chapstick.
- "Nupont Fiber-Woven Bowls" runs for 23 seconds, in this scene Kip demonstrates the durability of the bowls by driving over it.
- "Time Machine Scene - Ext. Scene" runs for 1 minute 54 seconds, Napoleon is curious about the time machine which Uncle Rico bought online.

There are "More Sweet Outtakes" which feature three outtakes, basically footage not used in the film and feature some funny moments, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, they include:

- "Kip's Love Poem" runs for 55 seconds, in this scene Kip reads out his poem as he types it.
- "Outtakes Montage #2" runs for 4 minutes 38 seconds, and is as the title suggest, a series of unused footage edited together.
- "Lord of the Dance" runs for 44 seconds, here we see black and white footage of Napoleon dancing.

"Casting Napoleon Dynamite: An Interview with Jory Weitz" featurette runs for 13 minutes 5 seconds, here the executive producer of the film is interviewed about his involvement in the film, reading the script and working on a low budget comedy as well as the importance of the casting process for the various character in the film and finding the right people to play the unique characters of this film.

3 audition videos are included for Tina Majorina, Efren Ramirez and Haylie Duff which runs for a total of 5 minutes 38 seconds and features the original tapes of these actors as they audition for their roles in the film.

"Peluca" original 2002 student short film which features optional filmmaker audio commentary by director/co-writer Jared Hess, editor Jeremy Coon and actor Jon Heder. The film runs for 8 minutes 46 seconds, this is the film that inspired the feature and provides a neat look at what Napoleon was originally like as the geek Seth also played by Heder.

"Napoleon Sightings and Pedro" clips are next which can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, they include:

- MTV Total Request Live clips that runs for 5 minutes, features Napoleon being the guest VJ on the show.
- "Tankman Begins" short which runs for 5 minutes 55 seconds and is from the 2005 MTV movie Awards.
- Opening of SNL with Jon Heder episode clip runs for 3 minutes 57 seconds, Jon hosts SNL in this opening clip.
- 2004 "Teen Choice Awards- Napoleon Dynamite and Nicole Richie play tetherball" clip runs for 1 minute 26 seconds, a featured clip from the awards show.
- 2005 "Teen Choice Awards - Hissy Fit Awards" clip runs for 1 minute 3 seconds, Heder accepts his award.
- "Spelling Bee Coded Message" clip runs for 59 seconds, this is footage from the National Spelling Bee where a competitor imitates Napoleon.

"The Wedding of the Century" featurette runs for 3 minutes 46 seconds, is a basic EPK clip about the marriage scene from the end of the film, as the cast shoot the scene which was done long after the original film's production ended.

Next up are a series of three "Utah State Fair Ads", essentially these are TV spot promoting the film and can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option and include:

- "Horses" which runs for 34 seconds.
- "Wild West" which runs for 34 seconds.
- "Worst Ride Ever" which runs for 34 seconds.

Also on this disc are a collection of MTV On-air promos, there are 7 in total and can also be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option and include:

- "3 Easy Steps Napoleon 01" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "3 Easy Steps Napoleon 02" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "3 Easy Steps Pedro 01" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "3 Easy Steps Uncle Rico 01" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "3 Easy Steps Deb" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Fishing 02" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Liger Vs. Tigon" which runs for 46 seconds.

Following that are "Napoleon Goes To Hollywood" TV spots, there are six in total which can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option and include:

- "Rez Dogs" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Nightclub 01" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Nightclub 02" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Nightclub 03" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Nightclub 04" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Nightclub 04 Alt" which runs for 33 seconds.

The disc is rounded out with a still gallery that features 43 image taken during the production.

Overall

The Film: C Video: A+ Audio: B Extras: A Overall: B+

 


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