In Jared Hess's follow-up to his highly successful debut "Napoleon Dynamite," Jack Black stars as Nacho the priest, who, to save his orphaned children from starvation, becomes a luchador... a wrestler. Those who enjoyed the comedic style of "Dynamite" will enjoy "Nacho Libre," and those who didn't won't.
"Nacho Libre," not nearly as offbeat as "Napoleon Dynamite" and not nearly as funny, still hits you with plenty of laughs to last 100 minutes. As with "Dynamite," the movie takes place sometime in the past, though whether it's a couple years ago or twenty it's hard to tell. The characters are quirky and generally strange, especially the wide assortment of wrestlers that pass through the movie. The two miniature demon wrestlers are especially amusing and one of the highlights of the film.
Black is pretty good in the lead and manages to pull in the laughs in places that generally wouldn't do so. His colorful facial expressions compliment Hess's style of humor, and his goofy Mexican accent works well, especially when saying the word, "goooood." Black shines and seems to be having fun throughout the flick, but then again, how many times do you get to play a fat priest who dresses up as a shirtless wrestler in "stretchy pants," fight weird Mexicans, lust after a beautiful nun and lip sync mariachi songs? It happens to me once a week, but for most people it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Surprisingly, Héctor Jiménez as his sidekick Esqueleto steals the show. The awkward, skinny tag-teamer with bad teeth and an amazing agility for someone who feeds off tortilla "orphan" chips and corn on a stick and nothing else is the funniest character in the movie, providing a sense of opposing reason to Nacho's absurdity. "How did you get up here so fast?" is one of the funniest lines delivered in the movie, when he realizes an overweight seductress has beaten him upstairs. Okay, you have to see the movie to understand, but... well, yeah.
As for the movie itself, it is pretty funny, but not overwhelmingly so. Admittedly, some of the best jokes are ruined in the previews, but there is still a fair amount of surprises unseen in the marketing campaign (like the baptism sequence). Compared to "Napoleon Dynamite," the film is fairly similar except that it is, amazingly enough, grounded just a slight bit more in reality, and the lead character can actually put long sentences together without much brain power. The movie isn't nearly as funny or quirky, but then again the first time I saw "Napoleon Dynamite" I wasn't blown away by it... but have grown to love it since.
There are a few parts, especially toward the end, where "Nacho Libre" begins to drag, and had ten minutes been carved out from its running time, it could have been a little better. You can tell that not all jokes hit the mark and Hess even resorts to fart jokes in a couple places, but the movie works about 75% of the time.
"Nacho Libre" is a fun follow-up to "Napoleon Dynamite." While not as funny or classic as Hess's previous film, "Nacho Libre" still succeeds by being an entertaining, brainless comedy that is easy to watch and surprisingly child-friendly.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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