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Napoleon Dynamite
DVD disk
12.27.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Napoleon Dynamite order
Jared Hess

Jon Heder
Jon Gries
Aaron Ruell


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Preston Idaho has probably never seen the likes of Napoleon Dynamite, it's most eccentric resident and member of one of the screwiest families you're ever bound to see. When Napoleon makes a couple of weird friends at school, namely the very shy but adorable Deb (Majorino) and fresh Mexican immigrant Pedro (Ramirez), he decides to help the latter win the race for school president against cool but mean Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff). Through all this, Napoleon still has to deal with his nerdy older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) and scheming Uncle Rico (Jon Gries).

There are few things funnier on film than genuinely quirky characters and there are few things tougher to accomplish than that as well. Director Jared Hess and his crew of little known actors did it better than anyone has in a very long time and ended up with a hilarious flick that's as addictive as a garbage bag full of crack. There's only a handful of gut-busting moments of laughter in NAPOLEON DYNAMITE but I found myself giggling and snickering like a little schoolgirl from the opening shot of Napoleon waiting for the bus all the way through the closing credits which now feature an epilogue that will leave your bladder begging for mercy. In between, you'll get to spend a few days at Preston High in the company of it's zany student body and in the Dynamite household which consists of a pair of socially undeveloped kids and a sleazy babysitter of an uncle named Uncle Rico. There's something really likeable about the characters though, even the mean ones like school hottie Summer Wheatley and her jock boyfriend Don (Trevor Snarr). Everyone in this town seems to have a couple of screws loose and it just makes the sight of our socially maladjusted hero less pitiful and lets us focus on the laughs. Jon Heder is just hilarious as the title character who also has a sensitive side that is expressed in a way that doesn't slow the movie down with a dull moral sideshow.

The wonderful job by Heder however is only made better by the hilarious antics of his sidekicks Ramirez and Majorino. As the presidential wannabe Pedro, Ramirez killed me with his yes/no answers and his unfortunate hair accident and Majorino was oddly hot as the time-warped misfit with s crush on Napoleon. The laughs didn't stop at home either with Jon Gries playing the role of the sleazy uncle sent to take care of Napoleon and his brother after their grandma's dune buggy accident. "Uncle Rico", as he's known to friends and family is the kind of slime ball living in the past and out to make a couple of bucks off anyone who can. His get-rich-quick schemes and love of steaks akin to Homer Simpson's best, Gries was perhaps the most effective character in terms of taking this movie from the schoolyard to a place where everyone could enjoy it. The guy who really nailed it as far as I'm concerned though is Aaron Ruell, who played Napoleon's older brother Kip. Every single one of his scenes was a guaranteed laugher as he redefined what a nerd should look like in film with his high tan socks, fabric shoes, big glasses and skinny ass, his penchant for internet chat rooms and his hidden desire to become a cage fight champion. If you enjoyed Ruell, you'll get a huge kick out of the added scenes in the DVD version of the film. Overall, this was a great movie. It clocks in at about a buck and a half making it easy to enjoy and it packs a great mix of laughs, cuteness and fun with a few hotties added in for the boys to look at.


Full-Length Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Jared Hess, Producer Jeremy Coon and Actor Jon Heder: This is a pretty funny track and if anything, it at least gives you a chance to hear Jon Heder's real voice rather than Napoleon's weird quizzical tone. Like I said above, the film is addictive so even if you want to listen to a couple of minutes of commentary, chances are you'll listen to the whole thing like I did. It's not a waste of time as it's filled with interesting information and a couple of laughs. Hess and his wife Jerusha wrote this story based on some of their own experiences so it's fun to hear them relate them to that.

"Peluca" Original Short Film (8 mins): A short black and white clip featuring Napoleon in some of the situations we'll later get to see in the feature film. It's quite funny although understandably much rougher than the final cut. It's available with optional commentary from Hess, Coon and Heder.

"The Wedding of the Century!" Making-Of Featurette (4 mins): A year after the movie was initially shot, the actors were reunited in Preston to film the epilogue that can now be found after the closing credits. They took advantage of the occasion to talk a bit about the film, the story and how it all came together. You'll be able to see what Kip really hides under those big glasses of his.

Deleted Scenes (4 mins): Four deleted/alternate clips with optional commentary from Hess, Coon and Heder, each funnier than the other. There's an alternate version of Pedro's short illness, a few locker room jibes from Don and more. Very funny.

You'll also be able to enjoy a Stills Gallery and eight hilarious MTV On-Air Promos.

I don't remember the last time I saw a film as original and as free of the usual boring clichés as NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. No guns (except for the farmer's I guess), no filth, no sex or booze, just a funny bunch of people living their lives. I'd recommend this to anyone and if you're not sure after your first viewing, watch it again. You'll discover a few new laughs every single time.
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