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Overall Rating
2.73

Awesome: 14.84%
Worth A Look: 23.44%
Average: 10.94%
Pretty Bad: 21.88%
Total Crap28.91%

11 reviews, 62 user ratings


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Nacho Libre
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by Jay Seaver

"If I believed in guilty pleasures, I'd feel pretty guilty."
4 stars

"Nacho Libre" has no use for subtlety. It stars Jack Black and is produced by Nickelodeon Pictures, and neither Black nor Nick is especially noted for forgoing the obvious joke for something more sophisticated when the obvious thing can be observed to work. In other words, people will occasionally pass some gas in this movie, but if you can get over thinking you're too good for a fart joke, you'll probably laugh at it.

Ignacio, nicknamed "Nacho" (Jack Black), has lived his entire life in an orphanage - first as a child following the death of his parents, then as the most lowly and least respected friar on staff. For nearly as long, he has been a fan of luchadors, the masked wrestlers who are immensely popular in his part of Mexico. After a new nun, Sister Encarnarcion (Ana de la Reguera) comes to the rectory and stirs dormant emotions within him, he forms a tag-team with Esqueleto (Hector Jiminez), the skinny pauper who had previously stolen the orphans' day-old tortilla chips. Soon, though, even if the money for being jobbers is good, they begin to hunger for respect, which can only be gained by defeating Ramses (Cesar Gonzales), the country's most popular and most feared competitor.

Slapstick is the name of the game here, and both Black's husky physique and Jimenez's skinny one are used for comic effect. The idea of these two guys being great wrestlers is absurd on the face of it, but not actually impossible - Black's a big guy who carries his weight well, rather than sloshing around when he runs, and Jimenez is wiry as opposed to brittle. Both have absolutely no trouble with looking silly when silly is called for, whether it be from a goofy mustache, having vicious dwarfs attacking each limb, or training programs which are of questionable usefulness. Nobody ever winks at the camera, either - everyone inhabits their absurd world without question.

Pretty much all of the actors are playing some variant of dumb here, and most characters are kind of ornery. Nacho's got a big heart where the orphans are concerned, but he's not above feeling petty or resentful. Black plays the character as a big kid trying to act smarter and cooler than he is, and even though he's a grown man, the audience gets the feeling, especially since he still seems to be stuck in the same school where he grew up, being berated by the people who picked on him as a child. Jiminez's Esqueleto doesn't have the same basic goodness at his center as Nacho, but he makes a good foil. When they argue, it is like kids fighting - there's no substance behind their religion versus science contention, and it seldom takes much more than an apology to make things right. While Ana de la Reguera's Sister Encarnacion is more mature than the boys, there is a certain childish simplicity to her character, too. She's radiantly beautiful but almost never sexualized; and though she's a very proper young lady, she often smiles a little when she's shocked, her sense of scandal being offset by the joy of discovery.

Having the characters behave like children isn't surprising, or even unwelcome, given that Nickelodeon produced this movie with kids in mind. They've built their channel (and later their film label) on knowing what kids find entertaining even if it's stuff adults might disdain, harmless as it might be. The actual kids in the movie don't act quite so foolish as the child-like adults, which lets the kids in the audience laugh at childishness without ever feeling slighted. Making a movie expressly for kids means director Jared Hess (who co-wrote the film along with brother Jerusha and Mike White of School of Rock fame) can't lean on pop-culture references and hidden jokes for the grown-ups. Still, they manage pretty well. I like the way they handle religion - they're irreverent toward it as an institution, and quietly disdainful of those who use it as a means to exercise power over others, but treats those whose faith inspires them to help others with respect.

The film isn't without its misfires, though. I'm a little surprised how nasty a couple of visual punchlines were, considering the PG rating: The tail end of Peter Stormare's guest shot just struck me as gross, although I'll grant that every nine-year-old I've ever met would probably giggle even as they stick out their tongue. And while I laughed hard at how a scene where Nacho and Esqueleto are confronted by thugs with knives finished up, I'm not sure I like the idea of kids finding it funny; family cookouts are dangerous enough without giving little Mikey bad ideas about the uses of corn on the cob. Aside from specific jokes, though, a little stupid can go a long way, and while some jokes pay off huge, there were points when the movie started to get on my nerves, and I can't really blame anyone who loses patience with the film. It's the kind of movie that can alienate someone early and never get back in his or her good graces, no matter how funny the later gags are.

As they say, there's a good chance you'll like "Nacho Libre" if it's the kind of movie you like. I happen to think Jack Black is a great match for this kind of silly kids' movie, but if you don't... Well, you probably won't enjoy it as much as I did.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14549&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/07/06 06:29:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

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
9/09/08 PAUL SHORTT EXTREMELY SILLY AND SUPRISINGLY SWEET 3 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
6/26/06 Cheryl I NEEDED A LAUGH, AND MIND AWAY FROM SERIOUS THINGS OF LIFE, AND I LAUGHED AND ENJOYED . 4 stars
6/26/06 TORI NACHOLIBREISTHEFUNNIESTGUYEVERMAN 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Jun-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006

UK
  11-Aug-2006

Australia
  14-Sep-2006




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