When I was a kid there were too things I loved to have for lunch:
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and salami sandwiches. One morning
when I was about six, the whole family went shopping and we bought a trunk
full of food. After it was all put away it was lunch time and my
mother said I could make whatever I wanted. We had a fresh
jar of extra chunky peanut butter and some of that deli salami where the
butcher slices it nice and thick. Which one to have? I just
couldn't decide. After thinking about it for about 10 minutes I had
a brainstorm: Why not have both? So I put mayo on one piece
of bread and layered salami on, smeared peanut butter on another slice
of bread and put them together. I was sure that my peanut butter
and salami sandwich was going to be a masterpiece. They'd probably
even name it after me, once I told the press about it. Of course
those dreams of fame and fortune quickly died as I took my first bite.
Ugh! It was horrible. How was it possible to mix two great
things and come up with a disaster? It just didn't make sense.
When I was screening Nacho Libre, I was reminded of my salami
and peanut butter sandwich. It stars Jack Black, an actor who I really
enjoy watching, and it was directed and co-written by Jared Hess the man
behind one of 2004's best films, Napoleon Dynamite. If you
put these two great talents together in a comedy about a Friar who becomes
a masked wrestler how could it fail? Unfortunately, just like my
sandwich, it does fail and has few redeeming values.
Nacho (Jack Black) was an orphan raised by Franciscan monks in Mexico.
He joined their order when he came of age and is now the cook in the orphanage,
making cabbage stew for dinner every day. While his mind should be
concerned with spiritual thoughts what Nacho really spends his time thinking
about is becoming a Luchador, a masked wrestling champion.
When a new, attractive nun arrives at the convent to teach the orphans,
Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera), Nacho is forced to take
stock of his life. He's attracted to Encarnación, he doesn't
enjoy his job, and is overall dissatisfied with his lot in life.
While traveling in town to get food, he sees a sign for a tag-team wrestling
tournament and decides to enter. Enlisting the help of a petty crook,
Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), the pair becomes Mexico's newest
Or so they hope. First they have to win a match. In the
tournament they are thoroughly trounced, but they do get paid. So
they come back the next week, and the next. They never win a bout,
but the keep getting the loser's share of the purse. Nacho uses it
to buy fresh produce for the orphans, as well as some fancy new clothes.
He's still not satisfied though. His goal is to become a wrestling
champion, and the only way to do that is to win the upcoming free-for-all
battle against the seven best fighters in the town.
This movie should be funny, but it just isn't. Just about all
of the jokes are telegraphed, and even Jack Black's hamming doesn't create
much humor. A perfect example of why the film doesn't work is presented
in an early scene. Nacho is told to go and comfort an old man who
has the flu. When he arrives at the house he finds an old man with
his eyes closed, and performs the final rights. He covers his head
with a cloth, and stands up and gives a eulogy to the man's wife.
Of course, the man takes to cloth off and opens his eyes half way though.
Nacho is surprised, end of scene. Do you get it? He wasn't
really dead! Can you believe that??? From the first it was
obvious that the man was still alive, but the actions that Nacho goes through
don't have much humor in them. The whole scene falls flat, like the
rest of the movie.
Besides the lack of comedy, this is a very sloppy movie too. It
is filled with continuity errors and flaws that really make it hard for
viewers to suspend their disbelief. I can overlook a misplaced prop
or two, but this movie is rife with those errors. From ears of corn
suddenly disappearing to Nacho not having the cords of his robe tied properly,
to very obvious stunt doubles in the wrestling scenes I can't recall any
movie, Hollywood made or independent, that has this many continuity goofs.
One of the most egregious gaffs is when the orphan's clothes change while
they are watching TV. They don't even try to disguise the fact by
putting some scenes in between the continuity goof. One shot they
are in day clothes, the very next one they are in night shirts. What's
with the language in the film too? Nacho and everyone he talks to
speaks English, but the announcers at the matches and everyone else in
the film speaks Spanish. This is confusing and just serves to remind
everyone that they are watching a movie. (I won't go into Jack Black's
There are a couple of laughs in the film, but they are few and far
between. The topic has a lot of humorous potential, but it never
really achieves what it should. Half way through film I started hoping
that it was almost over, and was quite depressed to discover that there
was still well over half an hour left in the film. A slow film that
unfolds pretty much as everyone expects it to, it's filled with lame jokes
that often misfire. Just like the sandwich I created when I was six,
this film leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
The 1.85:1 widescreen image looks pretty good but not outstanding when
compared to other Blu-ray discs. The level of detail is very good,
better than SD DVD certainly, but not as great as some other BDs and it
varies from scene to scene. Some segments look great, like the scene
in alley where Nacho and Esqueleto fight. Viewers can make out the
grains of sand that were used to make the brick walls and the threads of
the fighter's clothes. Other parts don't have that level of detail,
and while still better than SD DVD, they aren't nearly as impressive.
The film did have a good amount of dimensionality and there were several
scenes that really popped off the screen. (When Nacho is out in the
desert is a good example of this.) The colors were bright and solid
and the blacks were deep and rich.
On the minus side, there was a bit of digital noise in several scenes.
The blue desert sky was particularly apt to be effected by this.
This wasn't as bad as some BD titles (*cough* some Sony titles *cough*)
and was never really distracting but it was evident.
Paramount has provided Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, French
and Spanish. There wasn't a lossless audio track nor was a DTS track
present. Like the video quality, the audio sounded good but wasn't
outstanding. Fairly good use was made of the soundstage and the ambient
sounds were well placed, but there were few scenes that had much of a sonic
impact. I was hoping for a bit more from some of the wrestling scenes.
The incidental music fit the movie well and was clean but sometimes was
mixed a bit too loud. The scene where Nacho is driving to the city
and passes a villager and his cow, it's hard to hear what Nacho says.
("Nice cow.") Aside from that flaw, the soundtrack was solid.
This disc has a very good selection of starting off with a commentary
with Jack Black, Jared Hess, and co-writer/co-producer Mike White.
I wasn't too enamored of this commentary track. The participants
are eating dinner while they watch the film, which is an interesting experiment
but it doesn't really work. Like the film, this commentary was pretty
bland and dull and didn't really add much to my understanding or enjoyment
of the movie.
That's only the beginning however. This disc is really packed
with extras. There are seven (!) featurettes that cover most aspects
of the film, two rehearsals of Jack Black singing, three deleted scenes,
promo spots, a photo gallery and a theatrical trailer. A very nice
selection of extras.
A big fan of Jack Black and Jared Hess, I was really looking forward
to this movie. I had wanted to see it in the theater, but didn't
get around to it, and I'm glad it worked out that way. This film
misses at most levels. More often than not the jokes don't work,
the movie is very predictable, and viewers ultimately don't care about
any of the characters. While the Blu-ray disc looks and sounds good
and has a large selection of extras, that doesn't make up for the poor
quality of the film. Skip it.