Bonus Points: DVD Reviews

'Dynamite' Redone

Napoleon (Jon Heder) and Pedro (Efren Ramirez) offer cakes and other sweet treats on the new special edition of
Napoleon (Jon Heder) and Pedro (Efren Ramirez) offer cakes and other sweet treats on the new special edition of "Napoleon Dynamite." (Aaron Ruell - Fox Searchlight Pictures)
By Jen Chaney Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 16, 2006; 12:00 AM

"Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever!" (PG; List price: $26.98)
Release Date: May 16

When "Napoleon Dynamite" first came out on DVD two years ago, I predicted that fans should expect a special edition of the offbeat, hugely popular comedy in the not-too-distant future. Evidently the future is now.

Keenly aware of the seemingly never-ending appetite for all things "Dynamite," Fox has delivered a revamped, two-disc DVD and boldly dubbed it "the best special edition ever." That may be a bit of promotional exaggeration, but this new "Napoleon" shows marked improvement over the previous version. To put it in the parlance of the movie's star, it's not quite flippin' sweet, but it's definitely sweet.

Enhanced with relatively few extras the first time around, the special edition -- or, as I call it, "Vote For Pedro 2.0" -- is filled to the brim with bonus features. Some may look familiar to those who bought the original DVD; the four deleted scenes, director's audio commentary, "Wedding of the Century" featurette and the short film "Peluca," which inspired "Napoleon Dynamite," all make reappearances here. Newcomers include seven additional deleted and extended scenes; a second commentary track with cast members Aaron Ruell (Kip), Jon Gries (Uncle Rico), Efren Ramirez (Pedro) and Tina Majorino (Deb); a surprisingly dull "On Location" documentary; another, more engaging doc about director Jared Hess and "Napoleon's" rise to prominence during and after the 2004 Sundance Film Festival; audition footage; and an archive of appearances by star Jon Heder, from the opening monologue he delivered on "Saturday Night Live" to a series of clever promos for the Utah State Fair.

If you've never been introduced to Hess's quirky look at high school life in Preston, Idaho, or never bothered to invest in the first "Napoleon Dynamite" DVD, the special edition is undoubtedly the one to buy. But those who already own the original may want to take a pass, as the new material isn't quite robust enough to merit a second investment.

Funniest Bonus Point: The collection of "Napoleon and Pedro Sightings" demonstrates how deeply this film has penetrated the American culture. Exhibit A: Footage from the 2005 National Spelling Bee in which contestant Dominic Ranz Ebarle Errazo randomly quotes the film, in a dead-on Napoleon voice, prior to spelling the word chinook. "Do the chickens have large talons?" he blurts out, completely befuddling the Bee's commentators. "Was that a secret message?" one of them wonders.

Most Entertaining Bonus Point: The "World Premiere: Jared Hess" provides amusing insight into the filmmaker's mind and a compelling look at how a tiny movie became a cultural phenomenon. The highlight: Footage shot in Preston, Idaho, site of last year's first-ever Napoleon Dynamite Festival. One blond female attendee, sporting a T-shirt that reads "Girls Like Guys With Skills," happily points out that, "Bethany Hamilton, that [girl who] got her arm bitten off by a shark, came ... and she says if they make 'Napoleon Dynamite 2,' she'd love to be in it." Believe it or not, the second annual Napoleon Dynamite Festival is already set for July 7 and 8, 2006.

Also on DVD This Week: "The Producers" and more.

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