For those of you expecting another Napoleon Dynamite, prepare to be disappointed. For those of you expecting a Jack Black romp through the Mexican wrestling leagues, prepare to be disappointed. For those of you expecting to get a good hour and a half long nap, enjoy.
Gone are the slapstick happy days when the likes of Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd performed jaw-dropping displays of comedic timing, choreography and skill. Humor was an art form - an amusing and exciting way to criticize the upper-class and put the spotlight on the every day Joe. Since those pioneering days, the art of comedy now caters to the lowest-common denominator. No longer does it require talent and wit to provoke a laugh. Apparently, all you have to be is an overweight man running around with his shirt off, falling down and farting to become a master of comedy, as Jack Black showcases in Nacho Libre.
Working off pages from Wes Anderson’s play book, director Jared Hess meticulously creates montages detailed, symmetrical shots in between scenes of Black and company falling down to tell the story of Nacho, a monk with dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. Admittedly, there is not much of a story to tell, as the plot is an excuse to watch Black bounce around the squared circle. While Black’s half-naked physical comedy might get a laugh in a contemporary setting, when he’s being beaten by a pair of midgets, his physical prowess loses its absurdity.
Even more excruciating than the wrestling scenes are every scene in between. When Black isn’t the masked wrestling hero, he is forced to deliver lines in the vain of Napoleon Dynamite with a Spanish accent. It is completely anticlimactic to have Black act subdued and expect a comedic pay off during the bombastic physical scenes when his comedic repertoire is based on extremely ridiculous physical antics.
It’s a lesson you would have thought Hess learned from his first directorial effort, Napoleon Dynamite. When Napoleon performs his dance at the talent show, it’s unexpected and, as a result, funny. Now Napoleon Dynamite’s annoying quote-inducing, cult status aside, Hess built to that single moment through Napoleon’s subtle, introverted frustration. Given the nature of Black’s “acting” ability, when he finally dons the Nacho mask and hops in the right, it’s not funny, it’s required. There is no momentum building in Nacho Libre nor is there any worthwhile humor.
Although the movie might be hard to watch, it isn’t because of an awful DVD presentation. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is nearly flawless. Hess’ pastel-pallet backgrounds cause the flashes of red to pop off the screen. Similarly, the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio makes a strong impression, providing solid audio cover throughout each channel, without overpowering the center channel’s dialogue. A Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also available
In the way of supplements, you might be excited from reading audio commentary by Black, Hess and Mark White on the back of the DVD box, but try to contain yourself. The commentary is as dull as the film. There is hardly any talk about the actual production, though there are several amusing anecdotes that stop you from turning the commentary off. Then there is a string of featurettes that are more quantity than quality. “Detras de la Camara” is much like an E! behind the scenes look, without Steve Kmetko, and “Hecho en Mexico” takes a look at the exotic filming locations. “Jack Black Unmasked” follows Black’s preparation for the film, while “Lucha Libre” is a crash course in Mexican wrestling.
If you are extremely interested in this film, these brief featurettes are worth checking out. But if you are looking for supplement material to enhance this film, you’re out of luck. There are then a handful of deleted scenes and TV spots if you are still willing to waste more of your time on Nacho Libre.