Nacho Libre

Nacho Libre

Film review by: Witney Seibold

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            In my review of Napoleon Dynamite, director Jared Hess’ previous film, I incorrectly predicted that it would not accumulate the cult it was obviously shooting for. When I saw the talking Napoleon Dynamite keychains for sale at my local Aahs!, I realized just how wrong I was. I was not a big fan of the film. I found it a bit mean-spirited in that it couldn’t decide whether it was lionizing its oddball characters or out-and-out mocking them. Hess has now followed up the cultish fame with this new film Nacho Libre. I have the same problems with this film, only magnified. Plus it has the additional disadvantage of being stiflingly unfunny, and even slightly racist.

 

            The setup sounds ripe for comic potential: Brother Ignacio (Jack Black) is a monk in Mexico who cooks slop for the local orphanage. He’s not a very good monk, as he lusts after Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera), and dreams of being a luchador, one of those masked wrestlers you see on late-night Spanish-language television. He enlists the help of a local wild child, Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), and together they begin training to become wrestlers (at least I think that’s what it was, how is getting stung by bees considered “training?”) in the hopes of winning enough money to feed the orphans better, and maybe seduce the nun. There are a few real-life luchadors in the movie, and a few poorly-choreographed wrestling scenes. All of the characters have huge teeth, huge guts, cock eyes, or some other “funny” physical limitation. The characters all speak with a pidgin inflection that invokes all the subtlety and nuance of a Speedy Gonzalez cartoon. Eventually Nacho/Ignacio lands a chance to wrestle local sports hero Ramses (Cesar Gonzalez), but by that point I was only waiting for the film to end so I could get back outside and breathe deep the clean air.

 

            How are we supposed to feel about Brother Ignacio? Are we supposed to be rooting for him? Then how come he is such a caricature (Black uses an accent that lands somewhere between Italian and Dr. Emil Lizardo)? Are we supposed to revile him? Then why is the film billed as a comedy? Are we supposed to be laughing at him? Then why do we care if he wins or loses? Rather then tackling these questions, I have a better idea: just don’t go to see Nacho Libre.

 -June 19th, Paramount Pictures

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Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 1:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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