Reviewed byronniebeeVote: 8/10/10
I saw this at the LA premiere at the Chinese Mann Theater. The audiencewas laughing so much at times, it was hard to hear the film. Jack Blackmay at times go over the top but he more than makes up for it with somemoments of real genius. Besides the obvious jokes there's anintelligent, awkward humor here for those who look for it. Some criticsare saying the plot is too predictable. C'mon. This is often an issuewith critics trying to take storytelling in comedies too seriously. Ifa comedy succeeds in making you laugh all the way through, who the heckcares? Were you going to this movie to feel suspense or to pee yourpants laughing? If the latter, you'll love this film.
Reviewed bytawdry_hepburnVote: 8/10/10
Preface: I will avoid giving specifics on the movie in this review.There is nothing more damaging to a comedy that knowing the jokesbefore hand. Since I liked this movie, and it was funny. I shall shyaway from spoilers.
Jared Hess shoots his movies like a funny David Fincher. His obsessionwith grime and dirt and everything looking old and decrepit, is almostfetishistic. But he has grown a lot since we last saw his work,(shooting extreme close-ups of steak and tater-tots in NapoleonDynamite). Not to sound cruel, but I was surprised while watching hislatest effort, Nacho Libre, because, wellit looks like a "real" movie.There is dynamic lighting, proper shot composition, and interestingcamera movements. I guess a budget increase from $400,000 to about 38million makes a difference. Oh, and by the way, the movie is very, veryfunny. I'm talking cola out your nose funny. Starting with the additionof (the brilliant) Mike White to his writing staff, Hess has crafted amuch more cohesive and narratively satisfying film.Though it does keepthe skit-ish nature of Napoleon Dynamite, stuff actually happens inthis film. The movie, (apparently based on a real monk, though the endof the credits state that the film is totally fictitious) tells thestory of Ignacio (Nacho for short), an orphaned boy who becomes a monkat an orphanage. Nacho is in charge of "Cooking duties and dead guyduties" and is generally looked down upon by the other monks andpriests, though the children love him. After the orphans nacho's arestolen by a homeless man and the head priest humiliates Nacho for hispitiful meal preparation skills, Nacho--who's greatest love in life ismasked luchador wrestlingdecides to enter a tag team match, with thethief as his partner. They lose, horribly, but discover that even thelosers get paid. And with money, Esqueleto, the street urchin (and yes,those are his real teeth) can live comfortably and Nacho can buy betterfood for the orphans. Orphans who are hilariously always referred to as"the orphans", as if to constantly reminding them of their misfortune.Also, during all of this, Nacho is trying to woo the new girl,Encarnación, who just happens to be a nun with the same name he has.
Given the current battery the Catholic Church is taking in publicopinion, it is nice to see a movie that never once mocks the religion.Sure, there are priests who have the hots for Ana de la Reguera. Butthe she is so dumbfoundingly gorgeous, it would be silly for any man,much less one who must be celibate, to not at very least look twice ather. The church here is played as a wholesome, good place. There isnever any salacious undertone to the scenes between the priests leftalone with small children, and nobody "gets" the girl in the end, soall the general morals are upheld. Also, it is nice to see a movieabout Latin culture starringgaspLatinos! Everyone in the movie,except Black, (who is actually playing a white guy, not a Mexican asmany IMDb posters have postulated) is of Hispanic origin. And theculture comes off well.
Beck does a few wonderfully fun songs for the soundtrack, and DannyElfman's score is his best in years. (ironically, shortly after I wrotethis, I discovered that he had taken his name off of the film becausehe was unhappy with the way his work was presented). There is a generalirrepressible levity to the proceedings that is infectious. And thoughthe movie meanders more than it should, you can't help forgive itsshortcomings because it is so well natured. Oddly in contrast to thisare the wrestling scenes. They come off as overly violent, and thoughthis could have just been Mann's Chinese's killer sound system, I couldhear bones crunch, and things looked painful. The action scenes aren'tfarcical like the rest of the film, though some of them are thrilling.
Parents should be aware that this movie could be a bit scary forchildren under 9 or 10, and though the film has a more positive rolefor minorities and women than any film I've seen in a while; it doesseem a little bit inappropriate at times. There is nothing sexual, andthere are good morals to be found, but the movie does have a strongline of toilet humor and Punch and Judy level slapstick throughout.However, this isn't really a kid's movie. It is just a movie, thathappens to be rated PG. It is made for teens and adults, but there isnothing objectionable enough as to keep kids out. Overall, Nacho Libreis a pretty damned funny movie, with a good heart and lots of laughs.Jack Black even gets to sing, a few times! And while it is lessinstantly quotable than Napoleon Dynamite it is a better film overall.If you like Jack Black, Dynamite, Wrestling, or your kids have alreadyseen Cars and you want to take them to something else, this movie isabout as good as you could hope for. Though not especially deep, it isexactly what I want when I go see a big summer comedy. Now I just can'twait for the Tenacious D movie.
Post Script: Prepare to hear "I only believe in science" constantlyafter this film is released.
Reviewed byDavid A DeinVote: 7/10/10
It's good to know that farce is alive and well in the world. Since themid 90's it feels like film makers have lost their grip on truly greatweird comedy. Movies that speak to the few and turn off the rest. Itseems that even as the tools to unlock our imaginations get flashierand flashier, and special effect budgets grow and grown, American filmgrow static and stale. Then when it seems like all hope is lost, a filmlike NACHO LIBRE comes along.
Somewhere in Mexico, a young priest named Nacho (Jack Black) longs tobe recognized. He's tired of serving the same bland food to the youngboys in his charge. He's tired of being disrespected by the otherpriests. He longs to be a luchadore (a Mexican wrestler), and to gainthe affections of the stunning Sister Encarnación (Ana del la Regura).Then when all hope is lost he teams up with a new friend namedEsquelta, and takes the Mexican wrestling world by storm. Will theorphan boys get better food? Will Nacho win the heart of SisterEncarnación? Will he lose everything he has, on a quest to become agreat warrior? Giving this movie its due will provide those answers andmore. The movie not perfect. It's a little overlong and some of thejokes fall flat on their face. But there is an earnestness and a sweetgentility in the film that will win you over. You cannot enter thismovie with the wrong attitude and if you don't like weird movie its notfor you. But if you let it entertain you and if you give into the factthat it really bizarre, it will work. You have to take every scene withgrain of salt and logic must be thrown out the window. But if you turnoff that part of your brain that strives for everything to beplausible, than this film will entertain.
Then for no apparent reason the movie does something I didn't quiteexpect, it begins to tackle a serious subject. Behind all the sillinessis a story about how legalism traps us in a place of boredom andpredictability. Whether it be religious legalism or secular legalism,NACHO LIBRE is about a misfit who succeeds because he goes out on alimb. He doesn't give up his religious fervor when the chips are down,when his atheist friend tells him to give into science and logic, andhe doesn't give up on God because men of cloth treat him badly. Hestays true to his faith and not his religion. This message is notbeaten over the audiences head. This is not a religious picture. But itgives the film a dimension that I didn't expect.
Director Jared Hess, doesn't stray to far from his Napoleon Dynamiteroots. But that's okay. It works here and he hits the right comictones. I can't wait for the DVD because I'm convinced that the filmreally needs to be viewed a second time. Knowing what to expect allowsthe audience to settle into Hess skewed comedy. The film is very dryand if you don't know what to expect its easy to dismiss the comedy andthink the film is horrible. You have to work at it a little bit and letit sink in. But when you get it you'll love it.
If you're looking for an hour and half of silliness you can't go wrongwith NACHO LIBRE. It's cute, sweet, and you get to stare at JackBlack's upper torso for far too long. Trust me if you like weirdlysweet Mexican wrestling comedies this is the film for you.
Nacho (Black) is a monastery cook, who spends his day feeding orphans and being overlooked by the monastery. When Sister Encarnación (Reguera) arrive at the monastery, Nacho realises that the only way to win her affection and to save the children, will be by competing as a Luchador wrestler.