Directed by Jared Hess.
Written by Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess and Mike White.
Starring Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Héctor Jiménez and Cesar
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 6/09/06
When I first saw the trailer for "Nacho
Libre"--the follow-up from
"Napoleon Dynamite" writer/director Jared Hess--I laughed, but
mostly I was a bit weirded out. Jack Black, playing a Mexican
wrestler named fucking Nacho? Someone was actually trying to
sell this? But, as I watched the trailer again and again, I
had to admit, this thing might actually be pretty good. By the
time I went to the DC Film Society's Trailer Night a few weeks ago,
I was convinced of one thing: the only three films this summer
that are 100% slam dunks in my mind are "Miami Vice", "Snakes on a
Plane" and "Nacho Libre."
And, with my buddy Yac right beside me, I
caught a freebie for "Nacho Libre" Thursday night, and damn, was it
funny. Here's what should tell many of you all you need to
know, especially if you know Michael "Yac" Iacovone: if he actually
liked it, you KNOW it's a great movie, because Yac doesn't like
anything. For instance, Yac was able to admit prior to the
movie that "Old
School"--for my money, the best comedy of the new
millennium--was just "pretty good." To compare, Yac admitted
that "Nacho Libre" would earn a $9.50 Show in his book.
(Note: easiest way to find a Nazi--ask him/her if they think "Old
School" is a great movie. The second they waver, call the
You know what "Nacho Libre" is about if you
have seen any of the ads--a guy working in a Mexican orphanage/house
of God, Ignacio (Jack Black), aspires to earn some money for his
orphange by moonlighting as a wrestler. So, with the help of a
115-pound petty thief named Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), Ignacio--who
goes by the nickname Nacho--and Esqueleto team up to form the
region's worst tag-team twosome, wrestling with and losing to some
of the best and worst the area has to offer. All the while,
Ignacio tries to win the heart of a new nun in the orphanage,
Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera), who believes that wrestling is just
about the biggest sin available.
The film starts slowly, but by the time we
get going with the wrestling sequences, the laughs really start to
roll downhill. I'm not even sure where to start--the hilarious
performance by Black, who works well under the right conditions; the
right conditions here are a script by Hess and Mike White, who wrote
of Rock" screenplay, and the subtly deliberate style of Hess.
I'm trying to figure out the best way to explain this, but this
style is a very careful mix of very structured storytelling--the
wrestling matches and the intended romantic angles give you all that
you need to build the story around--and the seemingly offbeat nature
of the comedy in both "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Nacho Libre."
Example: in one of the early wrestling matches (shown briefly
in the film's trailer), Nacho and Esqueleto fight against two
midgets. Yes, midgets are funny. Yes, you know that
midgets should have no business wrestling full-sized adults.
But, Hess somehow makes this scene run for five minutes, making it
get funnier as it goes along by slowly building its ridiculosity
(yep, a word), inserts hilarious sound effects of eagles and hawks
and other random birds flying around whenever someone jumps off the
ropes into another wrestler, and inserts hilarious scream noises
whenever Esqueleto gets scared. I couldn't believe how hard I
was laughing, and we're talking about something that shouldn't have
worked for nearly as long as it does. So much of this film is
silly, weird, and uncomfortable, which strangely works with the
material. Just watching Esqueleto smile will elicit laughs in
your theater, none more so than when he hands Encarnación a note and
backs away from the door as if he is going to fly away with his
arms. Again, silly, stupid, strangely hilarious.
There are many other examples like this in
the film, ones that I won't give away here but will certainly have
you buzzing upon exiting the theater. We also get random Jack
Black moments like one near the film's conclusion, when he sings a
song for Esqueleto that should honestly have a shot at winning an
Oscar. The cast is great, the casting of local Mexicans that
have some of the most fucked-up grills in recent film history is
genius, little touches like a black wrestler named El Snowflake are
brilliant. The score is so random that you have to stick
around to the conclusion of the credits to hear a song that Black
came up with about nothing at all; you'll also see a lot of credits
to White & Black for songwriting but also some compositions by the
artist Beck, adding to the off-kilter-osity (also a word).
"Nacho Libre" is generally just a really
good film, one I actually liked more than "Napoleon Dynamite"
because of the former's consistency after a slow start. As
good as Black is, he is not nearly as inspired a creation as Jon
Heder's Napoleon character, but after these two efforts I can't wait
to see what Jared Hess is going to give us next. Did I mention
that this is fun for the whole family? Can PG films actually
be this good?
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard