Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nacho Libre


Precious Father, why have you given me this desire
to wrestle and then made me such a stinky warrior?


The last time Mike White and Jack Black teamed up we got one of the most charming, funny movies in years, Richard Linklater's "School of Rock." Their follow-up collaboration, "Nacho Libre" with director Jared Hess, falls short but is still at times very, very funny.

What makes it work, when it does, is Jack Black. This may be sacrilege to many, but the spirit with which he embraced the role of friar Ignacio/Nacho Libre reminded me most of Peter Sellers' Pink Panther. His Mexican/Scandinavian accent is suitably ridiculous, and he looks right at home in Nacho's wrestling tights and my favorite outfit, the powder blue jump suit with a mini-cape he dons at the end.

This easily could have been one of those movies, like Anchorman, that seems like it would be funny as a SNL sketch but wears thin after about 15 minutes. Most critics, and several people who comment on this blog, felt that way about "Nacho," but I was never bored and laughed very often throughout.

Plus I liked Nacho Libre in the spirit that I liked the Three Stooges. Great physical comedy, in which Black is ably abetted by tag-team partner Esqueleto, played with an odd verve by Hector Jimenez.

It's probably good that I waited on this one and that I almost always go to movies at noon on Saturday, when practically no one is there, because I had at least two practically uncontrollable fits of laughter that lasted several minutes.

Both of these moments came in the ring, when "Nacho Libre" is at its best. The first was when Nacho and Esqueleto are fighting those hairy little midget creatures who flew around the ring like winged monkeys, and then at the end, when Nacho's beloved orphans show up in their luchador masks to watch him battle Ramses.

During this last battle, as I stopped to catch my breath, I could hear that the other four or so people were laughing at least as hard as me. It's good to know I'm not the only one who enjoys Mike White's warped view of the world.

So, how would I sum up "Nacho Libre?" It's like my cubicle colleague Dan Maley said when I asked him if he liked it or not. Dan just shrugged and said "I thought it was funny." Well, so did I, and that's enough for me.

I'm gonna cut this one short because Les Bleus kick off against Brazil in a few minutes, and I don't want to miss one second of it. I taped the England-Portugal game, but already know that Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates took out the Three Lions squad in penalty kicks 3-1. Huzzah to them.

I may even, in honor of Nacho, don the luchador mask I picked up from the Chivas USA folks at the last MLS Cup.

12 comments:

DGH said...

I agree...but the previews really made me want to make this movie more funny than it probably really was...but I can truly say that by the end of the movie I could not laugh any more....which brings me to an interesting conclusion.... how much is our movie experience enhanced by the crowd that we are watching it with? I remember watching a Star Trek film the first showing with my boyscout troop when I was younger....there we were with hundreds of Star Trek freaks (I admit I was one of them... but I was not wearing pointed ears and uniforms...like the rest...I digress) and we could not get enough of it! The entire audience yelled and cheered like it was a superbowl for geeks! t rocked...and perhaps seeing Nacho with people like me that laughed at almost everything because we were so looking forward t seeing it...maybe it made the viewing experience even better for everyone else.... second hand laughter? heh heh...well yall take care cya!

Reel Fanatic said...

I think being surrounded by like-minded folks definitely enhancing the movie viewing experience, dgh .. this certainly happened for me with Napoleon Dynamite, which I would have loved anyway, but was hooked even faster by the younguns around me who had clearly seen the movie at twice already, and anticipated every funny moment without ruining them

Andreia said...

Interestingly the crowd I was with hardly laughed at all but that did not keep me from loving the film. I will agree however that an enthusiastic crowd helps oodles. I remember seeing Beverly Hills Cop with a large audience of African Americans that were not afraid to openly talk to the movie. It was the funnest movie I ever went to!

I think in this movie it helps if you understand the culture a bit. The film simply mastered that culture which is alive and well without bitterness.

Thanks for the review and now I gotta go try to find a way to cheer myself up after the Brasil loss!

Reel Fanatic said...

That was a truly game Andreia ... Although I was cheering for France out of love for Thierry Henry and Zidane, I feel bad for Brasil and their beautiful game

Reel Fanatic said...

oops .. meant to say truly great game, of course

Todd Jones said...

andreia, i had the same experience seeing "don't be a menace to south central while drinking your juice in the hood." while in the theater i thought it was hilarious because of the audience, but when i saw it again later by myself i didn't think it was nearly as funny.

themarina said...

I agree with you. I wasn't impressed but it did have its moments - for me they were few, but there were a few.

Danny B said...

Hey, just noticed your comment on my blog -- thanks for the suport about Nacho Libre - I was so surprised to find it get such lukewarm critiques from reviewers - I had a blast with it. Can't say I agree with you on Superman though - I still feel like it is mostly getting these glowing reviewers from people who have a great nostalgia for the original, and most others are disappointed. Nice blog though, feel free to comment on mine anytime!

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