‘Nacho Libre’ a showcase for Black’s antics | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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‘Nacho Libre’ a showcase for Black’s antics

Howie Nave
Daniel Daza / Paramount Pictures / A slop cook in a Mexican orphanage named "Nacho" (Jack Black, left) teams up with his friend Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez) and moonlights as a masked Lucha Libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans in "Nacho Libre."
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The mere visual of actor Jack Black in tights is beyond a little nauseating, especially when you consider another caped crusader is out in a a couple weeks, and what would he have to say?

Still, Black makes the most any situation humorous – even his role in “King Kong” was funny at times. Where he finds these roles, well … they’re unique if anything. So here we have Mr. Tenacious D in a movie that will tick off a few religious types, especially Catholics, but there is a message. See it through, and not just in sections that might seem surreal. Wrestling fans be forewarned, Jack Black may be the next big thing on the mat after this is released.

Directed by Napoleon Dynamite’s Jared Hess, and written by those folks who gave Black the sleeper hit “School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre” is hoping to get the great buzz that “Dynamite” had going for it.

Black plays a priest named Ignacio who cooks and provides food to a rural Mexican orphanage. Why? He was raised in the orphanage since childhood, and it’s his way of giving back. By choice? No, that’s what we’re led to believe, but there’s more behind the man than the mask. Mask? That’s right. In order to make ends meet, the priest in him by day gives way to his alter ego, Nacho, who becomes part of the Lucha Libre tournament. The what? It’s Mexican wrestling, and Nacho figures he can follow his passion for wrestling and raise money for the orphanage at the same time, even though it is a sin to partake in such an illicit activity. His specialty? The Anaconda Squeeze, of course. Move over Hulk Hogan.

In the hands of Hess, the whole wrestling angle gets a sarcastic treatment. Hess (who also co-wrote the script) steers the storyline so as to serve as an ongoing gag for Black’s talents. And Jack Black has never shied when it came to getting the laughs. As Nacho, he gets to be a Luchador, which is best described as one of those over-the-top wrestlers in cartoon costumes with a flair for choreographed movements. And are the kids really the motivation, or could it be a señorita? Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), who is a very attractive nun, finds herself at the same place. But what is this Lucha Libra event he has longed to be a part of? Think the WWF, but with no shame and, no, not gonna do it, but will say he does have some self esteem issues.

“Nacho Libre” is an odd flick and felt too long, even though it clocks in at 90 minutes. The movie may have trouble pinpointing its audience, but Jack Black is the main draw, and with Black you never know if you’re going to get the straight, sensitive character or the outlandish one. File this one in the “outlandish” category.

Seeing this, I kept wondering what the late Andy Kaufman would have thought. His bout with wrestling, though, was more an inside gag, where no one was in on the joke. Hess hopes his film becomes a cool flick like his “Napoleon Dynamite,” where those who “get it” are the cool crowd, but this movie just sort of cools after the first 20 minutes. Like a one-trick pony that wears out too quickly, “Nacho Libre” starts out with an interesting enough premise, only to rear up and stall from lack of follow through.

The movie also sports a supporting cast including Richard Montoya, Troy Gentile, Moises Anas and Héctor Jiménez as his skinny sidekick. Too bad there wasn’t more meat in the nachos.

– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8.


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