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Nacho Libre - DVD Review

Nacho Libre, as a movie, should not work. Its plot is non-existent to shallow at best. Its jokes are silly if not inane. And the action falls somewhere between absurd and juvenile. If Nacho Libre were a football team, it'd be 30 points behind before the opening kickoff. But then again, we're all familiar with the old adage that goes something like, "that's why they play the game." And in the incredibly fickle game of moviemaking, Nacho Libre scores a huge upset.

The creators of 2004's cult phenomenon, Napoleon Dynamite, join forces with the writer of School of Rock to create a silly little tale about the son of a Scandinavian missionary and a Mexican deacon who were killed when he was young. Left to grow up in an orphanage, Nacho (Jack Black) is now a friar (or, at least he wears a robe like a friar) whose charge is as cook of a remote Oaxacan monestary. He's not a very good cook, but he squarely blames that on his lack of good ingredients. He longs for more money so that he might buy fresh vegetables and meats to provide the children with meals that don't include the usual dark, gruel-like refried beans.

As a means of earning the needed money, not to mention the chance to land the admiration of the beautiful nun, Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), Nacho partners with an emaciated young orphan boy, Esqueleto (Hector Jiminez). Together they begin performing in the local Lucha Libre fights, which resemble some kind of odd cross between acrobatics, the circus and the professional wrestling we know in America. Ingrained in the Mexico culture, Lucha Libre enjoys a popularity second only to soccer, and has given fame to such legends as El Santo, Blue Demon, Gory Guerrero, and Tarzan Lopez. Nacho hopes that he too will one day become as famous. The only problem is that Nacho is not very good at wrestling.

As ridiculously far-fetched as the plot is (although it does carry that ubiquitous misnomer "inspired by a true story"), and as unlikely a candidate for box office success as it is, the movie works because of the talents of two people: Jack Black and Jared Hess. Black's physical humor and bizarre wackiness (which conjure up the dead-fat-actor ghosts of such greats as John Belushi and Chris Farley) play perfectly to Hess's camera techniques which treat its subjects with a kind of "look-at-this-geek" voyeurism, bordering on exploitation but spilling over into genuine laughter.

Jack Black has always had his own sense of style and verve - the great ones always do - so he's perfect for the confidently inept Nacho. His junior high rationality and Gilligan-like ability to succeed in the face of assured failure, make Nacho an every-man's hero. He wears a sky-blue pair of "stretchy pants" and cherry-red cape with such undignified confidence and aplomb, we're somehow able to look past the fact that his doughy physique more closely resembles the Michelin Man than it does a well-toned wrestler. Black takes what should be an unpleasantly repulsive Nacho, and turns him into a recipient of our pathetic yet genuine sympathy.

Often times, the films that arrive with very little fanfare and even fewer expectations are the ones that end up scoring the big touchdowns. Napoleon Dynamite's huge success will most assuredly draw a sizeable number of fans and cause of spike in expectations, but even so, Nacho Libre is a pleasant little kernel of a surprise that rises to the top of the Summer box office dung heap.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 1.85:1; Full Screen 1.33:1; Closed Captioned

Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; making-of featurette.

* Commentary - Feature-length audio commentary - Dinner and a Commentary with Jack Black, director Jared Hess and producer Mike White
* Featurettes -
o Detrás de la Cámara (28:31)
o Jack Black Unmasked (12:35)
o Lucha Libre (3:13)
o Hecho en Mexico (2:28)
o Moviefone Unscripted with Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez (9:12)
o Jack Sings (2 clips, 6:19 total)
* Deleted Scenes - 3 total
o The Way of the Eagle
o Poem for Ramses
o Ramses Gets Jumped
* Promo Spots
o History of Heroes
o He Fights...
o Action Figures
o Nickelodeon's El Tigre
* Photo Gallery
o On Set
o Luchadores
o Nacho Especial
* DVD Rom Features
o Comic Book Creator
o Original Theatrical Web Site Archive
o DVD-Rom features do not work on Mac OS
* Preview Trailers - For the following upcoming Paramount releases:
o Flushed Away
o Barnyard
o Mission: Impossible 3
o An Inconvenient Truth
o Over the Hedge

Number of discs: - 1- Keepcase Packaging with Lock tabs. DVD package comes clothed in a pair of stretchy pants.


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