Nacho Libre (2006) – By Christopher James

 These days theaters are filled with sequels and remakes. The trailers we see before the sequels and remakes are more sequels and remakes and occassionally a film that’s only a rip off of twenty other films. Hollywood has long known that people like certain formulas and that we stick with what we’re used to. The original gems aren’t really discovered until they hit video shelves–the Boondock Saints or the Napoleon Dynamite’s. These movies get a small release in theaters where no one goes to see them. Then they get sent to video and after word of mouth gets around that a good movie has actually been made, they end up with t-shirts at the local Hot Topic. Rarely does a movie come out in theaters in wide release that is unique and different. Something that dares to be different. Nacho Libre is different–very different. Perhaps it’s the success Dynamite has found on video combined with the box office success of School of Rock that let’s this one movie sneak by and try to be an original gem. Whatever it is, I’m hoping it keeps happening.

Nacho is the brainchild of the brothers behind Napoleon Dynamite and the genius that is Mike White (The Good Girl, School of Rock and the lead in Chuck and Buck). Instantly the Hess brothers (Napoleon Dynamite) give the movie a weird sensibility. Add in Mike White’s touches of genius and you have a well written, out there film. Your lead is played by Jack Black, who shot to fame after his energized performance in the classic John Cusack flick High Fidelity. Take the energy of Black in High Fidelity and multiply it by 100, add a mexican accent that comes and goes and you’ve got Jack Black in Nacho Libre–a place where he belongs.

Hess has an obvious affection for the humor found in odd looking people. Fat people are always wearing tight clothing. Old guys get close ups for no real reason other than to get a laugh at how odd they are. The film starts with Jack Black as a young fat kid raised in a mexican monastery. He dreams of being a wrestler but it’s forbidden in his religion to think of such things. He grows up to be the monastery cook. He’s treated poorly by the other priest’s, one of which is hilariously played by Dynamite alum Efren Ramirez. A new nun joins the monastery as Jack Black tries out wrestling for the first time. Insert here, the obligatory love story between Black and the new nun. Black has to hide the fact that at night he’s going off to wrestle but comes back with money to help the orphans. Basically it’s Orgazmo taken down to a PG rating.

I left the theater liking the film but after a couple of days I found myself loving this film. What the film has going for it is its weirdness factor. It’s so out there and over the top and then it comes back down to be humanistic before jumping back into the out there gear. It’s funny, with a range of intelligent humor…

Jack Black: Do you believe in Jesus?
Partner: I believe in science.

to plain stupid humor that only a 9 year old would get. The only problem I see with the film finding success is their current inistence to market this film to kids–it is made for Nickelodeon Films after all. It has humor too intelligent for kids to get. It’s something that someone like me will enjoy. Someone searching for a film that at least tries to be different. Something that risks box office for creativity. This film is genius waiting to be discovered. It’s smart and stupid at the same time–something for everyone. It’s original yet formulaic–again, something for everyone. Hopefully, people will give it a chance at theaters instead of having to find it on video. Look for the t-shirts at your local Hot Topic.