We’ve all known (or been — be honest, now) Napoleon Dynamite at some point in highschool. He’s too tall for his own good, lives in a fantasy world of his own, and is a socialcatastrophe. At home, his thirty-something brother Kip is just as odd, and when their hard-partying grandmother winds up in the hospital, Uncle Rico (permanently reliving his supposedglory days of 1982) comes to look after things, and generally makes everything worse. ButNapoleon is also coming out of …is shell, bit by bit, with two new friends: Pedro and Deb. WhenPedro decides to run for class president against cheerleader Summer, Napoleon throws himselfheart and soul into the campaign.
Napoleon is a perfectly realized character. On the one hand, he is an over-the-top cartoon anda painfully recognizable stereotype. But he is also completely human, completely understandable,and we sympathize with him utterly even when he isn’t necessarily that likeable himself. The plotis little more than an excuse to meander from one quirky incident to another, and by the end, oursense of Napoleon’s world is a complete as that of any Robert Altman film. Delightful. Andmake sure you keep watching after the closing credits.
This is not a loud film, by any stretch of the imagination. It generates at least as many laughsthrough its silences as through sound effects. Still, when called for, the environmental effects arequite strong (see, for instance, the background noises at a farm show and in the crowded schoolcorridors). The music also has a good, big sound when appropriate. There is no buzz on thedialogue.
Two versions here (one on each side of the disc): fullscreen and 1.85:1 anamorphicwidescreen. The colours are strong and natural, as are the flesh tones. The image is sharp, andthere is no grain or edge enhancement to get in the way of one’s viewing pleasure. A handsome-looking transfer of what must have been a very inexpensive film.
Both sides have the commentary by director/co-writer Jared Hess, star Jon Heder andproducer Jeremy Coon. Their discussion is quite deadpan, and provides much by way ofbackground and the childhood memories that inspired the film. Side A (fullscreen) also has theB&W short “Peluca,” from which the feature sprang. There are seven trailers here, along withads for the soundtrack and Arrested Development, and “The Wedding of the Century” –a making-of featurette that, curiously focuses on the post-credits epilogue. Side B has a stillgallery and four deleted scenes (with optional commentary). The menu’s main screen andtransitions are animated and scored, while the other screens are scored.
Hilarious, very assured comedy. These boys bear watching.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Peluca” Short
- Still Gallery
- Making-of Featurette