Tuesday, August 15, 2006

NACHO LIBRE - nowhere near as funny as other Jack Black flicks

NACHO LIBRE is the new movie from the guy - Jared Hess - who gave us the whimsical high school comedy NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. It also stars Jack Black, the comic legend from HIGH FIDELITY and, playing it more straight, KING KONG.

NACHO LIBRE has a deliberately infantile plot. Nacho (Jack Black) is a monk who has to cook food in a poor Mexican monastery cum orphanage. He cooks crappy food because he has no money. He fancies the new teacher, Sister Incarnacion and tries to impress her and give the kids better food by wrestling for money. However, the Church frowns on wrestling.

As one might expect given the plot, the humour in NACHO LIBRE is pretty infantile too. It consists in a really fat guy and a really skinny guy wearing "stretchy pants" getting seven shades of shit kicked out of them in a wrestling ring. When not wrestling, the humour consists in Nacho's afro, manic eyebrows and all the actors using pastiche Mexican accents. It's the kind of slapstick humour the British perfected in unsophisticated comedies such as 'Allo 'Allo.

NACHO LIBRE also has a deliberately infantile directorial style. There is little to no camera movement. Every scene is like a framed picture with all the action in the centre of the screen. Or else it is an aerial shot, usually capturing food that Nacho has arranged into a smiley face. When there is a proper tracking shot it is conspicuous and serves to a highlight a key moment - such as when Nacho has come out as a wrestler to the monastery and walks towards the village putting on his wrestling mask.

I have to say that I normally have no objection to this kind of simplistic, fake-naive comedy. I loved NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, after all. But, much to my surprise, I found NACHO LIBRE a bit weak. It's only ninetey minutes long, but that's a long time to fill if you only have "stretchy pants" and a silly accent. (Amazing, and nice to know, that you can still get away with such non-PC stuff!) So, much to my amazament, I have to give this movie a reluctant thumbs down. I suspect that fans of SCHOOL OF ROCK and other Jack Black fare will be a little disappointed.

NACHO LIBRE is already on release in the US, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Kuwait, Italy, Mexico and the UK. It opens on Agust 18th in Italy and Spain. It opens in September in Finland, Argentina, Australia, Iceland, Brazil and Turkey. It opens in October in Belgium and Japan and in November in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

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