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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.73%
Worth A Look: 24.03%
Average: 10.85%
Pretty Bad: 21.71%
Total Crap28.68%

11 reviews, 63 user ratings

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Nacho Libre
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by EricDSnider

"Hess' and Black's styles are opposite. Opposite in this case is not good."
3 stars

Oh sure, you'd THINK Jack Black and the guy who wrote and directed "Napoleon Dynamite" would make a great team. Jared Hess is funny, and Jack Black is funny; why, together they should have newly minted comedy gold spurting out their comedy orifices!

And yet "Nacho Libre" is proof that the pairing is wrong, all wrong. Their styles are opposites. Hess' "Napoleon Dynamite" found its humor in quirky characters who behaved in ways that, while unusual to us, were perfectly normal for them. Black, on the other hand, doesn't play "characters." He plays himself, mugging and smirking as if to remind us that it's just him after all. In other words, Hess' comedy depends on actors being fully committed to their characters and never breaking the illusion, but Black refuses to disappear into a character and revels in breaking the illusion at every opportunity.

Both styles work fine separately -- Black's "School of Rock" is a joy to watch, and the charms of Hess' "N.D." are, I'm sure, well-known to you -- but not together. Hess hasn't tailored his style to mesh with Black's, nor has Black made any attempt to fit in with Hess' sensibilities. And so "Nacho Libre" is full of merry whimsy and scattered chuckles, but never the outright hilarity it aims for.

Black plays Ignacio, a half-Mexican priest at an orphanage in a quaint, timeless village south of the border. Consigned to kitchen duties by his priestly higher-ups ("They don't think I know a buttload of crap about the gospel, but I do," he says), he dreams of being a masked wrestler, or luchador, so popular among the country's ordinary folk. If he were to realize his dream, perhaps he could even make some money to improve the orphanage.

But the monastery he belongs to disapproves of professional wrestling (there's a church I can get behind), and so he dares not mention his dream to anyone, not even the angelic Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), whom he has a less-than-priestly crush on.

Luckily, luchadores tend to be masked. His identity concealed, Ignacio -- now Nacho -- pairs with a filthy, wide-mouthed street kid named Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez) to become the town's newest wrestling sensation. Yet they can't seem to break into the ranks of the established luchadores, and Nacho is particularly disheartened to realize his idol, Ramses (Cesar Gonzalez), is a jerk and a snob.

The screenplay (by Hess and his wife Jerusha, with help from "School of Rock's" Mike White) finds much of its humor in the old-fashioned pastoral setting of the Mexican village being juxtaposed with modern American slang like "it sucks to be me" and "whatever." I confess to giggling at this sort of thing oftener than I should, though it is distracting when Black not only says the line, but makes one of his trademark faces to go with it -- a reminder that hey, it's me, Jack Black, pretending to play a role for 90 minutes.

Hector Jiminez, whom the filmmakers found at open auditions on location in Oaxaca, is a gem, though. Filling the "N.D." Pedro role as the protagonist's so-oblivious-he's-cool Mexican sidekick, Esqueleto gets it exactly right, delivering his silly dialogue without affectation or showiness. He has what everyone in "N.D." had: very little professional acting experience, and thus no self-consciousness to go with it.

Apart from some uninspired slapstick (Nacho falls off a bike; Nacho catches on fire; etc.), Hess shows he's still a savvy director who has grown since his first film. He composes interesting shots that are more than just functional (making use of Mexico's gorgeous scenery in this case) and very effectively uses eclectic songs for the movie's soundtrack. If he'll branch out into other styles of humor, or find actors who can forget themselves and blend into his world, he'll have a long, hilarious career.

But I can't completely dismiss this one. The film is so good-natured and pleasant and simple that I can't not recommend it. It's a disappointment in a lot of ways, but it's sure an upbeat one.

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originally posted: 06/16/06 16:23:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/17/18 Ajp wales A good movie. Just fun. 4 stars
8/28/11 Jennifer We love Jack Black and this is one movie my kids love to watch. Silly but awfully funny. 5 stars
11/21/10 DaveY The silliness is fun- Jack,Hector & Darius r great & Ana is gorgeous - I luv the soundtrak 4 stars
1/25/09 Robert O'Keife David is just using the internet to vent because he is insecure about his small penis 1 stars
1/09/09 Samantha Pruitt pretty funny, very ridiculous! lot of awkward moments, 4 stars
12/03/07 Screwball The best movie I've seen about Mexican wrestling. 4 stars
10/20/07 Lynn "Get that corn outa my face!!!!" - The one and only funny line in the whole entire movie 2 stars
7/25/07 frito-laid i want my two hours! 1 stars
7/01/07 Mehmet Unal Boring and totally devoid of anything resembling wit or humour 1 stars
5/19/07 David Pollastrini PRETTY DUMB 3 stars
5/17/07 ES I wanted to like this movie but with two times watching and not making it too the end... 2 stars
1/27/07 diego Alvarez If david thinks this movie is dull, he must have no sense of humor and he is really lame 5 stars
1/23/07 Dave Hilarious movie, David just doesn't get it (or Napoleon Dynamite) 4 stars
1/11/07 rozza david cornelisu is a cunt!! its a minter of a film so is dynamite!! 5 stars
1/06/07 jack diy "or how a large percentage of Mexicans are retarded" ...what tha fuck? fuck you david 1 stars
12/24/06 11pop It's a piece of crap 1 stars
12/05/06 maggie truly dreadful piece of filmmaking 1 stars
12/04/06 Carson I nominate david cornelius for biggest douche in the universe, and this movie was great 5 stars
11/17/06 George The only way to describe this movie is STUPID, but its so stupid that you have to laugh!!! 5 stars
11/17/06 Paul lots of memorable moments, if you`re lookinf for Casablanca go elsewhere 4 stars
11/11/06 surfric I'm a JB fan, but this is strictly a time killer. Laughed maybe twice. 3 stars
11/11/06 DIANA there were some funny moments, not a lot but some 3 stars
11/10/06 Dan Relax, stop being so high brow. It's a classic. 5 stars
11/09/06 Babz I had a good laugh. 3 stars
11/08/06 Derek Just right 5 stars
11/01/06 Mike Really really funny! A breath of fresh air. Laughed my balls off all the way through! 5 stars
11/01/06 ad fresh 4 stars
10/31/06 Bundy Ok, seriously this movie was pretty funny, and David Cornelius is an assfuck. 5 stars
10/31/06 Ryan_A Laughed once - the corncob to the eye bit. Other than that, surprisingly unfunny. 2 stars
10/31/06 ES Ho-hum, almost not worth the watch but it passes time, I guess 3 stars
10/30/06 Roy Smith I might consult a lawyer - this was advertised as a Comedy. 1 stars
8/28/06 Barry Norman what a load of bollcks, jack black must have a movie deal to do this shite 1 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist An ownable Jack Black comedy,about as good as Nepolian Dynamite.Both cult classic-ish 5 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant I wanted to love this movie. Regrettably, it sucked big, floppy donkey dicks. 2 stars
7/25/06 Alex Paquin Unbearably offensive, hispanophobic, and not at all funny. A waste of Jack Black's talent. 1 stars
7/19/06 Marjorie The jokes were puerile and his fat gut was repulsive. 2 stars
7/13/06 Captain Highcrime The least they could have done is pass out some Taco Bell...lost it's comic punch quick 2 stars
7/09/06 Mike Awesome movie - well crafted. Seaver's Review - also Awesome! 5 stars
7/09/06 Edler Hilarious part of the goofy comedy genre. But if you don't know Mexico, you won't get it. 5 stars
7/03/06 Heather Weak movie, wait until the DVD comes out and rent it instead 3 stars
7/01/06 Gerry Irons Too silly and long on one joke -with no wit or substance 2 stars
6/30/06 Mike (of Mike & the MORONS) Great! Lots to laugh at, and great (though odd) soundtrack. 4 stars
6/26/06 Mase Like a long bad snl skit, with Black trapped in the role and a PG rating. 2 stars
6/26/06 verdesage this movie is great and completely worth seeing! theres nothing not to like about it! 5 stars
6/25/06 pin What's with Hess and food shots? Nice pacing, Black was hilarious. 4 stars
6/24/06 ELLY the best 1 stars
6/22/06 Caiphn You people are clearly retarded. 1 stars
6/22/06 Tommy The worst movie I have ever seen bar none 1 stars
6/20/06 pedro painful 2 stars
6/20/06 jitters So, good-natured, pleasant and simple are bad things? I loved it. Viva Nacho! 4 stars
6/19/06 earlrural About as good as I expected. Much more Hollywood than Napoleon Dynamite. 4 stars
6/19/06 John Aster Habig Jack Black carries the film through Hess's slow pace and keeps the laughs constant 5 stars
6/19/06 Darius Silly plot, yes; unbelievable, yes; hilarious, yes; Hector Jimenez, fantastic 5 stars
6/19/06 Kell Dixon Nacho liber was the worst movie I have paid to see in a long time. The end 1 stars
6/18/06 lee Great attention to detail!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/17/06 Stacy Started out kind of slow for me, but definitely worth seeing. 4 stars
6/17/06 nachooo JB was AWESOME in this role. the movie was laugh out loud funny for about 90% of the time. 5 stars
6/17/06 Evil Wolfie At least its better then Napolion Dynamite. 3 stars
6/16/06 KingNeutron Wrestling was good; rest of the movie needed a REAL DIRECTOR + EDITING. JB's worst effort. 2 stars
6/08/06 CJ Payne very funny ,good date movie. 5 stars
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  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006



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