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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 William Goss

2 stars

With 'Nacho Libre,' writer/director Jared Hess follows the titular oddball (Jack Black) as he pursues his desire for a wrestling career in an effort to simultaneously earn the affections of the new nun and earn money for the orphans of the Mexican monastery where he cooks. However, Hess is less interested in the token underdog approach, instead opting to chronicle Black as he tries too hard to bring a manic excitement to a series of peculiar episodes that were intended to be humorous yet rarely are. Not so much a sophomore slump as it is a sophomore slouch, the antics before and behind the camera wear out their welcome faster than the elastic lining of Nacho’s stretchy pants.

There are certainly moments of undeniable hilarity, ranging from an abrupt locker room baptism to the humorous acrobatic antics of tiny tag-teaming fiends, but as the silliness continues, these nuggets only become increasingly infrequent as the formerly dismissed narrative comes to the forefront and reminds one of just how flimsy and overdone the underdog sports comedy is between each eccentric episode. For a relatively family-friendly farce, there are several scenes that could easily prompt parents to give pause, particularly with the sudden shot of an eye impaled with a corn cob (snort-inducing indeed, but apropos for kids?) and the striking inclusion of the word “douche,” that call the film’s PG rating into question. Many jokes are simply prolonged to an exhausting degree, such as the rampant narration of the X’s and O’s on a letter, and when the proceedings become especially desperate, Black and friends go for the gut and primarily its egress with sporadic fart gags and even the senseless union of feces and face, all of which seem aimed at the fans of other Nickelodeon productions and anyone else who’ll laugh at just about anything.

Hess, teaming up on the screenplay with wife Jerusha (Napoleon Dynamite, also co-written and directed by Jared) and previous Black collaborator Mike White (School of Rock, Orange County), continues to obey the juvenile logic and tacky sensibility that contributed to his previous film, perhaps doing so with a greater eagerness to mirror the cult sensation of its predecessor and/or simply spoiled by the financial influence and subsequent pressures of Hollywood to duplicate such success. The era and location remain curiously timeless, while characters manage to be too immature and naïve to write off as innocent. The tone is so similar to that of Dynamite, one wonders exactly what contribution White makes to the whole deal, save for his position as producer alongside – gasp! – his buddy Black. While not so much a screenplay as a scenario from which their lead can improvise and trot around his pudgy profile in tights as often as he pleases, Hess just points the camera in the same strange manner as before, never knowing when to pick up the slack. (And how would one exactly waste an appearance by scene-stealing Peter Stormare? Watch and learn.) Even the individual efforts of Danny Elfman and Beck on the soundtrack front manage to be similarly lackluster.

Hess opts to let Black loose, who then rarely attempts to actually portray Nacho as little more than a caricature. Instead, he’s always just Jack Black, armed with the most out-RAGE-ous accent this side of Monty Python, mugging in every other frame, and even going so far as to bust out a few of his Tenacious D trademarks. Just because Larry the Cable Guy smuggled in a few of his stand-up staples into Cars doesn’t make it right, and eventually, it seems that Black has nothing more to offer than the same old schtick which, not unlike Vince Vaughn, works in fits (School of Rock) but is ultimately ineffective. Ana de la Reguera’s heavenly nun, an amalgam of Penelope Cruz and Paz Vega, manages to sit pretty as well as anyone could possibly ask for, providing a dual voice of reason and object of desire with suitable grace. However, Héctor Jiménez’ sidekick, named Esqueleto (“The Skeleton,” after his gangly features), displays his toothy grin on cue, endures the majority of awkward abuse, and repeatedly whines out lines like “I don’t believe in God. I only believe in science.” to the point where certain creative forces appear to be striving to recreate their prior success with pre-packaged quotes and zany non-sequiturs. Like it or not, Napoleon’s humor worked because of convincing characters and believable performances, which is where Nacho’s nuttiness ultimately stumbles.

One wonders if matters would be any better without the occasional promise of ideal idiocy shining through, such as the startling relocation of Esqueleto’s hefty admirer or Nacho screaming “Get that corn out of my face!,” proving that there may be potential, most of which has been squandered by numerous gas emissions and simply unbridled lunacy. (Black’s priceless reaction to the apparent resurrection of the practically deceased is presented in the trailers, yet is swiftly spoiled by so little as an alternate angle in the final product.) For a good while, the gags are generally hit-or-miss, but the halfway point marks a noticeable decline, dissolving into a frustrating display of eccentricity without energy. While claims of racism are slightly strong, that particular notion isn’t hard to argue; of equal near-offense is the treatment of the religious aspects. Yet, even in spite of those factors and in consideration of the alleged frivolous demeanor, the intelligence level is one of questionable condescension. Silly and stupid need not be synonymous, but try telling that to Black, White, and Hess.

This is all coming from a guy who would otherwise find it difficult to begrudge any movie in which a character declares that they hate all of the orphans in all of the world. However, a few cumbersome chuckles and startling snickers do not a solid comedy make, and 'Nacho' manages to develop into something beyond scattershot and beyond derivative, a thoroughly madcap effort that is occasionally smirk-inducing and rarely anything more.

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originally posted: 06/24/06 10:13:44
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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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