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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Jack Black and Hector Jimenez in Nacho Libre

I watched Napoleon Dynamite earlier late last year on DVD and enjoyed it, but it didn't exactly blow me away. I guess I didn't really 'get' the film. (Justin said that being an American would've maximized my enjoyment of the film, I probably agree). That film reminded me of Wes Anderson's films, but... not as good.

(Despite the many comparisons people have drawn between 'Napoleon Dynamite' director Jared Hess and Wes Anderson, he cited the Coen Brothers in this interview as a major influence)

So I wasn't sure what to expect from Nacho Libre, his second effort starring Jack Black. The trailer seemed funny, but I had worried that all the funny parts were in the trailer, and I would sit through the film, not 'getting' it again, and then exposing my lack of sophisticated wit and sense of humour amongst my readers here by writing a rambling, sourpussed review. Hoo boy.

Initially expecting just some minor laughs, I ended up having a much better time than expected.

Jack Black plays Brother Ignacio, a monk who works as a cook in an orphanage, with a funny-sounding Mexican accent that makes you giggle (or cringe, whatever) almost whenever he says something. He has big dreams, wanting to be a lucha libre wrestler worshipped by many, and also lusting after the very hot Sister EncarnaciĆ³n (played by the very hot Ana de la Reguera... she kinda looks like Penelope Cruz).

Ana de la Reguera in Nacho Libre

Ignacio runs into a tall, scrawny beggar (Hector Jimenez) in a fight over a bag of tortilla chips in the back-alley, and is wrestled into submission. They later form a wrestling tag team and make money by getting their asses kicked in a weekly basis. Initially happy with their newfound wealth, Ignacio gradually grows tired of being a loser and starts trying to win a fight. And also, will he sacrifice personal glory for the good of the orphans? (unlike your conventional films, he doesn't really care that much about them...)

Despite its offbeat pacing and rhythm, the film is probably more conventional than Napoleon Dynamite, with a generic but affective climax in Ignacio's final showdown against champion wrestler Ramses. Jack Black's overacting is funny like hell (watch him sing just before the final showdown!), hell, not just his acting, even his present itself, seeing his pudgy frame, wearing that silly mask and cape is funny already. Quite refreshing after his asshole-ish turn in King Kong (love that movie, but can't really say much about his performance there), brings back memories of the (in my opinion) superior School of Rock.

Jack Black sings!

Time to see Jack Black in a serious dramatic role? (... King Kong doesn't count, and no, not Shallow Hal either) Or is he more probably a one-note actor? Hm. So, what do you guys think of Jack Black? Would you want to see him in a serious drama? It'll be funny if he pulls a 'Jim Carrey' by delivering such a great dramatic performance that I don't even want to see him in a comedy anymore. (Jim Carrey did that with Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind) As for Jared Hess, yes, I still feel that there are some resemblances between him and Wes Anderson, but I'm interested to see how he'll develop in his next film as well.

Nacho Libre trailer

Other reviews of Nacho Libre:
The Gallivantings of Daniel Franklin: That Girl, Ana Reguera (Nacho Libre)Daniel Franklin gives Nacho Libre a 1 out of 10, (pretty harsh) and posts pictures of Ana de la Reguera whom he insists is the highlight of the film.
Embiggened! Nacho Libre: Reviewed Embiggened ain't that impressed either, liking the idea and concept, conceding that it's a good ride, but questioning the shortcomings of the execution. (Obviously, I'm one of the rare people in the world who actually enjoyed the movie...)