Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jon Heider, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Feren Ramirez, Haylie Duff

What a refreshing breeze this film is. Seriously. Hollywood comedies have become so incredibly polished with high production values that sometimes we forget just how simple and character-driven a good comedy can actually be. ’Napoleon Dynamite’ is a minimalist exercise of the genre taking a bunch of super-nerdy, totally incompetent and moronic characters – spearheaded by the titular Napoleon Dynamite – in the middle of nowhere-Idaho and hold the camera on them playing out their everyday lives. That’s how simple it is, essentially. No grand scheme, no beautiful faces, no elaborate plots, just sort of a pseudo-documentary of the world’s most nerdy retards in their own little world. And it works, because it is funny as Hell. Some of the characters behave as if rigor mortis has almost overcome them already at the tender age of 15 or so, others are just so dimwitted it’s outright silly, and others yet are dreamers in times-long-gone, trying hard not to let go, or striking it rich with little schemes that no one will ever care about. It’s a bubble-wrapped world of illusion that has no relevance to the real world, one may say, though it’s tough to argue that this little world of pettiness certainly is the center of the universe for these people.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is offering up a fullscreen and widescreen version of the film on one disc. Give the film’s super-low production budget, the image is just as un-glamorous as the polyester shirts it showcases, but fully serves its purpose. The transfer is clean and without speckles or blemishes and the level of detail is generally good. Color reproduction is absolutely natural, with slightly over-and under-exposed palettes at times, just as the filmmakers designed the image. Blacks are good throughout and no edge-enhancement or compression artifacts flaw the picture.

The audio is presented as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix as well as a Spanish Dolby surround mix. Again the mix is very minimalistic and natural, never serving up the polish you’d find in a Hollywood production, and yet again, it perfectly suits the film in its absence of glamour and gimmicks.

A number of extras are included on the DVD such as a commentary track featuring cast and crew members of the film as they talk about the movie and their intentions. It is an insightful commentary which holds plenty of good material.

Also included is the original short ’Peluca’ with commentary as well as a making-of featurette with additional interviews and clips. Deleted scenes and a phot gallery round out the release.

’Napoleon Dynamite’ is a hilarious and refreshing film. It is certainly not everyone’s bag, but if you ’get’ the vibe of the film you’re in for a ride in which character quirks, dialogues lines – or the ineloquence of them for that matter – and the body language of the cast will have you chuckle and laugh constantly. Pretty devious, in a way, to make fun of simpletons like the ones found in the picture, but still, it’s just plain old funny.