Thanks to “Napoleon Dynamite’s” annoying and rarely loveable namesake, “sweet!” is now part of the national vocabulary and “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts are the must-have accessory of geek chic. At its heart, the movie tells the familiar tale of a loser who beats the bullies at the end, but the real fable is how helmer Jared Hess managed to turn this downbeat, drier-than-dirt film into a B.O. winner. Hardcore fans will learn little new, in part due to the abundance of extras on the original release, but the special edition, timed to Hess’s follow up pic, does contain nice touches.
A lively commentary track featuring Hess, actor Jon Heder and producer Jeremy Coon was featured on the pic’s 2004 DVD bow, as well as “Peluca,” Hess’ short film that inspired “Dynamite.” The loaded release also included a couple of deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes short, “The Wedding of the Century.”
To bulk up the special edition, a commentary track was added featuring four cast members, which will only be interesting to fans fascinated to learn that actress Tina Majorino is allergic to peanut butter. There is also an additional set of deleted and extended scenes, the cast’s audition tapes and clips from some of the “Dynamite”-mania that swept the country.
Far more entertaining is a new documentary on Hess, depicting his life before, during and after the film’s Sundance debut (including his reaction to Variety’s negative reviews, which he labeled a “low blow.”) Two weeks before Sundance, Hess was working as a camera assistant on a “how to sing” DVD. “I’m not very financially stable at the moment,” says Hess, who parlayed “Napoleon” into Jack Black-starrer “Nacho Libre.” Nice touches include commentary tracks for the deleted scenes and a lengthy interview with casting director Jory Weitz, who provides some industry perspective on a project that few thought would turn into a cult classic.