Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jon Heder
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Short film, Deleted Scenes, Promos, Interviews, Auditions, Still Gallery

When it first arrived on DVD about 4 years ago, "Napoleon Dynamite" was a breeze of fresh air in the glutted world of Hollywood movies. Distinctly different in its look and tone, the film immediately captured people's attention and also kept the giggling and laughing. Now coming to Blu-Ray Disc I was eager to see how the film holds up with a little distance, but like a good wine, it would seem it is only getting better with age.

Over the past decade or so, 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. It doesn't need an exotic location like Cabo – Idaho can be just as exotic if you look at it through the right set of eyes. You don't need a box office superstar who audiences actually have preconceived notions with – a completely unknown face might work equally well, or better. And such is this film – completely fresh and different.

'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 (Jon Heder) – 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. It does make you think what "civilization" actually looks like in some parts of the country…

Although it was produced as an independent film with a very limited budget, "Napoleon Dynamite" was using a 35mm spherical film negative, which pays off in boatloads on this Blu-Ray release. Many low budget films revert to smaller film stocks or formatting tricks in order to save money on the production, oftentimes resulting in mediocre to poor image quality. Here however, we have an image that is super-sharp and filled with detail. All that detail has made it nicely to the high definition transfer that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is dishing out on this Blu-Ray disc. Presented in the movie's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the transfer is not only offering up incredible detail that makes it possible to read even the tiniest scribbles onscreen, but it also boast a very faithful color palette that brings the film to life with impressive naturalness while maintaining the productions overexposed image quality.

The audio arrives on this disc as a DTS 5.1 HD Master Lossless Audio track that is without flaw. The film itself does not feature an aggressive mix by any stretch and as a result the surround track is equally underwhelming, but it has designed this way in order to properly serve the picture and the audio tracks presented on this release do a great job of reproducing this original low-key experience with its absence of gimmicks or glamor.

The release contains the same extras the were previously found on the DVD version, such as two separate commentary tracks and a selection of outtakes and deleted scenes, also accompanied by commentary.

The original screen tests of Tina Majorino, Efren Ramirez and Haylie Duff are also included, as well as a number of "flippin'" featurettes covering the fim's casting, production, the film's premiere and other aspects.

Also included is the original short 'Peluca' with commentary and you can also find promo spots, interviews and a still gallery on this disc, making for a solid package of extras.

'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. I found that the film works every bit as well upon repeat viewings as when I first discovered it years ago, so make sure to add this one to your shopping list.