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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/3/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/9/2009
There are probably several ways to define a "movie fan", and one would be a
person who sees a lot of movies. And as a "movie fan" sees more and more movies,
they begin to notice the similarities between them and can often pick out a
film's influences. Thus, one feels that they rarely see a truly "original"
movie. Napoleon Dynamite breaks that mold and emerges as one of the most
unique films that I've seen in years. This film defies genre pigeonholing and
offers a challenging viewing experience.
Jon Heder stars as the title character in Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon is a high-school student in Preston, Idaho and would easily be classified as a geek or nerd. He always wears moon boots and likes to draw unicorns and other mythical creatures. He rides the bus to school and is a member of the "Happy Hands" (a sign-language group). His home-life is equally as strange. Napoleon lives with his Grandmother (Sandy Martin), who often leaves home to go on wild adventures, and his older brother, Kip (Aaron Ruell), who claims to be training to be a "cage fighter", but actually spends most of his time in chat rooms. Things get even weirder when Napoleon's Uncle Rico (John Gries), a self-involved man who lives in the past, comes to live with them. Meanwhile, Napoleon has befriended a new student named Pedro (Efren Ramirez), and the two of them scheme to get dates to the dance and win the school elections.
The above synopsis is only the tip of the iceberg in describing this truly bizarre film. Napoleon Dynamite may be one of the quirkiest characters ever committed to film. Beyond his unusual clothing, one can't help but notice that Napoleon's eyes are always half-closed (if not entirely closed) and he rarely looks directly at anyone. His mood is also odd, as he doesn't seem to exude any self-confidence, yet he's always annoyed with people and acts very impatient. (He often snaps at others with his trademark "Dang!" or "What do you think?!" or "Idiot!") While most movie nerds are portrayed as smart, but shy people, Napoleon comes across as a semi-retarded guy who seems to have PMS. Napoleon's odd speech patterns fit the film, as Napoleon Dynamite is very oddly paced and people speak very slowly, leaving large gaps between their sentences. (This reminded me of the speech patterns in
As I was watching the movie, I proclaimed it to be the weirdest movie that I'd ever seen. (And that's a huge statement.) For, even in the most avant-garde films, I usually know how I'm supposed to feel about the story and the characters. With Napoleon Dynamite, I didn't have that luxury and viewing the film made me extremely edgy. However, as time passed, I began to remember certain parts of the film and the charm and humor of the film began to set in. There are some very funny and touching moments in the movie, but they can simply be hard to take in while watching the film. Napoleon Dynamite isn't a great movie and I'm not even sure if it's a good movie, but it's definitely an original movie which will leave its mark on the viewer.
Napoleon Dynamite rules at tetherball onBlu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. Two things immediately jump out at you with this transfer. The first is that the colors look very good. The reds and blues look very good, as demonstrated by the lockers in the school. The second thing which you notice is that there is a lot of grain here. Given these two facts, I'd be willing to believe that the movie was shot on 16mm, not 35mm. On the plus side, the image shows no defects from the source material and the image is never dark. However, it doesn't show a lot of depth or detail either. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and they do a nice job of accenting sounds which move from side-to-side on-screen, such as when Napoleon's bus arrives. The surround sound effects are OK as well, as shown in the crowd scene at the presidential speeches. The subwoofer really kicks in during Napoleon's dance.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long