Napoleon Dynamite: 10 Sweet Years

| May 6, 2014

Apparently it never entered my consciousness way back in 2004 that Napoleon Dynamite was some sort of cultural phenomenon. I mean, I guess I recall people wearing “Vote for Pedro” shirts, but somehow it never occurred to me that the film was actually hugely popular, raking in $44 million at U.S. boxes and thereby making incredible returns on its reported $400,000 budget. One reason I think all this passed me by was because, when I saw Napoleon Dynamite in the theater back in 2004, I was the sole person sitting in on that particular screening– hardly a sign that a movie’s popular.

If I had known of all this, there is a good chance I would have joined the proto-hipsters hordes in shrugging it off as “not that funny.” Or maybe I would have professed that I liked until it got popular. Who knows? The truth is, I liked it. It was silly and it made me chuckle, and what’s more, it’s got a certain kind of independent charm to it that really spoke to the young filmmaker in me. My personal history with Napoleon Dynamite ended back in 2008 or so, though, when it just sort of ceased amusing me. One day, I revisited it and I simply didn’t laugh. Something had changed in me, and that was that. So I sold my DVD and that’s the end of the story…

Or it would be, except that earlier this year Twentieth Century Home Entertainment re-released Napoleon Dynamite in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to celebrate, as the cover puts it, “10 Sweet Years… of Liger Magic, Tots & Great Skills.” And I thought: what the hell? It’s ten years on now so let’s give this thing another look. Ultimately, I still find it charming. Its intrinsic 80s-style datedness means it’s every bit as modern as it was when it came out, Aaron Ruell (as Kip) and Jon Gries (as Uncle Rico) still amuse me in the picture, and Napoleon’s climactic dance scene is every bit as epically wacky as it was in 2004. In the end, I’d say that, inasmuch as a movie I no doubt over-watched back in the day can hold up, it holds up surprisingly well.

And with this new release from Fox, if you’ve been on the fence about revisiting it, now’s the time. And if you actually still love it but have yet to upgrade to the old Blu-ray release (which I’m almost positive is the same disc packaged here), you should most definitely upgrade as the image is stunningly clear and clean.

That said, while the case for this release is packed with reference to the movie, complete with tots and the time machine, I do have a major gripe with the cover art. The exterior slipsleeve features a liger skin design with a type of velvet texturing on the stripes. In addition to detesting the feel of velvet (and that’s my problem, not yours, so don’t worry about it), the issue I have with it is that, when I opened the case, the discs were coated in hundreds of tiny velvety flecks. Had I not been paying close attention and jammed it in my Blu-ray player all coated in bits of texturing, I would have been more than a tad upset. Who knows what that could do your player? Take this more as a warning than a disparagement of the release, though. Just be sure to clean your disc before watching!

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: Video and DVD

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.