Nacho Libre serves as further evidence to the theory that people will laugh at anything as long as they expect to. I thoroughly hated director Jared Hess’ now-cult classic, Napoleon Dynamite, but now Hess returns with a movie that actually makes Dynamite seem remotely watchable. It doesn’t take much research to determine that Hess is the reason Nacho Libre is as dead in the water as it is. Jack Black and screenwriter Mike White previously collaborated on School of Rock, one of the most enjoyable comedies of this decade. I had to watch that after this film to cleanse my palette and exorcise the demons.
Black plays Nacho, a monastery friar who is relegated to cooking duties. Since the establishment won’t give him any money to get fresh ingredients, his food is widely regarded as terrible. He decides to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a wrestler, so he forms a tag-team duo with local thief Esqueleto (Jiménez). He simultaneously wishes to win the heart of Sister Encarnación (de la Reguera), a new arrival to the monastery. Nacho and Esqueleto find themselves on the losing end of every fight, but Nacho uses the consolation earnings to buy the best ingredients for his food – all the while keeping his wrestling alter ego a secret.
I have tried desperately to crack the code of why people find films like Napoleon Dynamite and this entertaining. Both films are weird for the sake of being weird, but a comedy that does not make. Much like Dynamite, the entire film is hinged on actors delivering random lines of dialogue is monotonous and bizarre fashion. Emboldened catch phrases are delivered in heavy doses, all in the hopes that this film will gain similar, Dynamite-like cult status. The rest of the content is mainly strategically placed farts and sloppily photographed wrestling sequences.
Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how Nacho Libre has managed to not garner any complaints from the religious establishment. The film is, after all, about a friar who wants to break celibacy with a young nun. Stereotypes, for which other films are usually hung for, are exploited by Hess once again in not only unfunny fashion, but also derogatory. Considering how jumpy the religious enterprise can be, their behavior here is surprisingly mute. The Da Vinci Code was recently skewered, and it didn’t even deal with religion in an offensive manner. Note to self: If ever making film mocking religion and ethnicity, do so with the strangest technique available.
Regardless, the only people who will take anything away from Nacho Libre are those who are still watching Napoleon Dynamite at least twice a week and exasperating the ever-loving crap out of everyone around them by ending every sentence with “gosh!” This is lazy, completely uninspired comedy that is really, really, really hoping you’ll just sit, point, and laugh at how funny it thinks it is.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG for some rough action, and crude humor including dialogue.
Theatrical Release: June 16, 2006
Directed by: Jared Hess
Written by: Jared Hess & Jerusha Hess & Mike White.
Cast: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Héctor Jiménez, Darius Rose, Moises Arias, Eduardo Gómez