** (out of 5)
June 16, 2006
Jack Black as NACHO
Ana de la Reguera as SISTER ENCARNACIÓN
Héctor Jiménez as ESQUELETO
Darius Rose as CHANCHO
Moises Arias as JUAN PABLO
Eduardo Gómez as CHUY
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Jared Hess
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Like many people out there, I found a lot of charm in “Napoleon Dynamite.” The film had heart, and it touched our own collective memory of what it was like to be an outcast in high school. “Napoleon Dynamite” managed to become a cult phenomenon without stooping to gross-out humor or the stand-bys of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
To some degree, though, “Napoleon Dynamite” was actually more fun to talk about than to necessarily watch. It was one of those rare movies that is more entertaining to remember than to see.
Still, when I heard that director Jared Hess was coming out with a follow-up film, starring Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler, I have to say that I was pretty excited. While I’m not a huge Jack Black fan, the whole concept seemed funny.
The film tells the story of a man (Jack Black) who grew up as an orphan in a Mexican monastery. Secretly, though, he has a dream of becoming a wrestler clad in blue and red tights. As an adult, he stumbles onto the path of wrestling and starts to live his dream. Even though he loses, the crowds love him, and he takes home some money, which he uses to buy decent food for the orphans at the monastery.
At the same time, he finds himself falling in love with one of the nuns near the mission. He tries to prove his love to her and show her that he is worthy of her affection, even if this conflicts with their vows of celibacy.
In many ways, “Nacho Libre” mimicked “Napoleon Dynamite.” The opening sequence was shot in a very similar manner (minus the tater tots). The film stock was overtly grainy, looking like low-budget 16mm. The cinematography showed many static shots with relatively little movement, enjoying the moment of awkwardness.
However, while “Nacho Libre” tries to spin the same feel of “Napoleon Dynamite,” it doesn’t fit the same mold. The genius behind “Napoleon” was that it tapped into our collective familiarity. We remember the mundane laziness of wandering through high school life. However, unless you were raised in a Mexican monastery and spent your nights as a masked wrestler in the closest town, there’s not a whole lot to relate to.
Yes, there are some particularly funny parts in the movie. However, they are snippets of comedy and not throughout the film with broad strokes. Of course, if you’re a Jack Black fan, you’ll enjoy it when he riffs and does his theme. I’m not a fan, and his bits did tend to not fit completely.
I know that Black is known for his music side, but does he have to sing in every movie he’s in? There are moments when Nacho breaks into song, and the Tenacious D version of Black slips through. It’s out of place and annoying. Thank goodness he never broke into song with “King Kong” last winter.
I really did want to like this film, but I found it pedantic and dull. I actually dozed off in the middle, and I haven’t done that since “Elizabethtown.”