With the double five-star punch of “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood”, I feel it’s time to nuke the ground with a not-so-good film and start afresh. So, let’s look at Jack Black’s “Nacho Libre” and his stretchy pants…
The story follows Ignacio (Jack Black), a monk who has had wrestling ambitions since childhood. As the cook for an orphanage, he decides that something must be done to give the children better food to eat and impress the new nun on the scene, Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera). So, he leads a double life- one holy one and one in the ring as the luchador Nacho, with his skinny partner Steven (Héctor Jiménez). As I said before, I really like the story as it’s unbelievably albeit loosely based on the true story of Fray Tormenta. Jack Black is funny in this, but not because of the “redeeculous” Mexican accent he speaks in. He’s funny when he does Jack Black stuff, like singing or contorting his face in the way that only he can. The only bits in which I remember laughing were at the bits when he was singing- the lyric “I ate some bugs, I ate some grass, I used my hand to wipe my tears” got a guffaw from me, but even these rare funny bits seem crowbarred in to give some life to this boring film.
I don’t know how you can make a Jack Black vehicle with wrestling as its gimmick boring, but somehow it was managed. My finger of blame is pointing directly at Jared Hess, director of the eternally overrated “Napoleon Dynamite” as he brings his unique “style” to this film. I’m all for directors having their own visual stamp on things, but when that visual stamp feels like they’ve put the camera down to go and have a slash for the entire film, you’ve got big problems. The sidekick Steven is used fairly well, but not enough to actually leave any impression. The comedy between Nacho and Steven is basically “One’s like, fat and the other is like, well skinny LOL!!11” and nothing much more. Let’s not even go into the casual racism of calling a Mexican character “Nacho” or the little fat, Mexican kid “Chancho” (meaning “pig” in Spanish). I don’t know how you can take a great comedic well like the world of wrestling and come up with anything besides gold either, but again this is managed.
“Nacho Libre” isn’t a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s mildly amusing enough to while away a rainy Saturday afternoon quite satisfactorily. However, when I heard the words “Jack”, “Black”, “Mexican”, “Wrestling” coupled with the words “stretchy” and “pants” I expected more than this. I hate to keep resurrecting this but with an awesome premise and actor it should be funnier. There’s no excuse for it. If Mr. Black wasn’t in this film, it would be ten times worse. As he is, it’s a passable film- but if you’re looking for big, belly laughs- look elsewhere.