Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Fox Searchlight & Paramount Pictures
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Runtime: 95 min.
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 3, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Video codec: AVC @ 34.5 Mbps
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1; Japanese & Italian Dub in
DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 + Spanish, French & Portuguese Dolby
English SDH, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese,
Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.
• Audio Commentary by Director Co-Writer Jared Hess,
Producer Jeremy Coon and Actor John Heder.
• Cast Commentary with Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries
and Tina Majorino.
• Outtakes & Deleted Scenes w/ commentary by Jared Hess,
Jeremy Coon and John Heder
• On Location (41:35)
• World Premiere – a Jared Hess Documentary (43:29)
• Napoleon & Rico Sightings (8:05)
• The Wedding of the Century (3:46)
• MTV On-Air Promo Spots (3:58)
• Interview with the Casting Director (13:05)
• Audition Videos (5:38)
• Still Gallery
This new Blu-ray from Fox marks the third plastic video
incarnation of this delightful, canny, occasionally painful
and relatively plotless movie about a high school nerd named
"Napoleon Dynamite." The second of these, subtitled "Like,
the Best Special Edition Ever!" was a 2-disc affair that
added a number of bonus features that made it an attractive
double-dip in DVD. Most of these find their way onto the
Blu-ray. So, why upgrade? Let's have a looksee.
Starting with a name that couldn't be further from what it
portends, our antihero, in every sense, is about as clueless
about entry-level social graces as is possible to be. We
wonder how someone with so little going for him can afford
an attitude, but it's all part of what makes him "dynamite"
I suppose. Napoleon (John Heder) is not so much a klutz as
he exists in an alternate reality, even more so than the
typical adolescent of our time. He is helped in this by his
older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) who spends most of his time
surfing the Net and in chat rooms looking the ideal
soulmate, and his uncle Rico (Jon Gries), a borderline
personality who complains that he wasn't given the chance to
make it into the big leagues and instead comes up with truly
zany selling schemes to make his fortune (You'd think that a
town the size of Preston, Idaho, would have caught on.)
Napoleon is a ready-made objects of sadistic bullying and
extortion by those high school jocks that cruise the halls
and playgrounds. In other areas, Napoleon hasn't even been
called to suit up, let alone gotten to first base when it
comes to girls, especially Deb (Tina Majorino), a sweet and
painfully shy girl who at least makes an effort. Napoleon
befriends a new kid, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), who is much more
direct and na´ve in his dealings with girls and his
possibilities in general.
What amazes us is that such a cast of nerds and marginal
humanoids are so utterly charming and, unless you were one
of the popular kids in school, identifiable as characters in
our lives. What unfolds is not so much as story with a punch
line, an ironic twist or moral, but a series of bizarre
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
The image is flat, thin, bright and naturally saturated by
turns, sharp and grainy pretty much throughout, so I think
the Blu-ray always reflects the intentions and/or
limitations of the photography. There doesn't appear to be
much if any artful lighting, so the whole thing has a
casual, natural appeal. . . sort of like its title
Audio & Music:
A fairly unremarkable, though entirely competent audio
track: Dialogue is always clear, which is especially good
since Napoleon tends to speak as if only to himself even
when he's yelling. The music by John Swihart and various
indie pop artists gets quite a goose from the new DTS HD-MA
A totally brilliant menu design that suggests the cluttered
helter skelter of a school notebook leads us from one
function to the next directly once you sort out what you're
looking for. The Extras pages do go on and on, and the
features listed on the cover are not necessarily titled as
such on the menu. And just look at all those languages and
subtitling possibilities! There are even Italian subtitles
for the commentary.
As is usually the case when features had an earlier
incarnation of DVD, the segments here are all in variable
quality 480p. It appears that all of the bonus features from
"Like, the Best Special Edition Ever!" (plus some additional
languages and subtitling) made their way onto the Blu-ray.
The filmmakers commentary is fairly dry, though informative.
The commentary by cast members is more fun. One of my
favorite segments is the brief "Wedding of the Century"
where the cast returns to shoot a postscript to the movie.
Still no trailers, though.
Despite its grainy image, I recommend this Blu-ray to
newcomers to the movie for sure and to fans who must have
the best sounding version possible.
February 6th, 2009