Jack Black says when he’s embarrassed, he knows it’s funny. He must have been pretty confident about the success of Nacho Libre, because as Ignacio (Nacho) – the friar by day, wannabe wrestler by night – he embraced one embarrassing moment after another.
Black stars as a friar at a Mexican orphanage run by the sort of God-fearing folk who think wrestling, or Lucha Libre, is a sin. All his life, Black has longed to be a luchador (wrestler), which is a bit of a conflict. His only jobs at the orphanage are cooking duty, and dead-guy duty. The latter only serves as an amusing side joke, while the former drives the story. You see, Ignacio’s bosses don’t provide him enough money for decent ingredients, so his food sucks. When the beautiful Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera) shows up at the orphanage, Black is smitten, and inspired to impress her with better food. But for better food, he needs money for ingredients.
Ignacio soon learns that he can earn 200 pesos if he wins at Lucha Libre tag-team. He convinces a skinny street bum, Esqueleto (Napoleon Dynamite’s Héctor Jiménez), to join forces with him, and then they’re off to get their faces smashed in. Luckily for them, even the losing luchadors earn money, so they keep at it, and soon Ignacio is preparing gourmet dishes for the orphans.
But Ignacio quickly gets frustrated with losing, and he develops a loftier goal to help the orphans. But to do it, he’ll have to beat the best luchador in all the world.
Nacho Libre works because Jack Black is funny in many ways. The automatic assumption here is that if you like Jack Black, then this film’s for you, but I say even if you haven’t liked Jack Black before, you should check this one out. Why? Because Black’s performance is less obnoxious than his usual shtick, and more well-rounded. His accent is hilarious, and exaggerated just enough to make any line funny, but not so much that it ever gets old. His ever-expressive face is a perfect accompaniment – those eyebrows are alive, I tell you. But it’s Black’s impressive physical comedy that steals the show. Whether he’s posing confidently in stretchy pants, or bouncing and leaping around the ring, Nacho is both bizarre and side-splitting, usually at the same time.
Production-wise, this film feels similar to director Jared Hess’ recent hit, Napoleon Dynamite, but thank goodness Ignacio is not another Napoleon; I don’t think I could stand another three months of hearing “lucky…” from every movie-quoting geek around.
Nacho Libre is another hit for Jack Black, and it further establishes Héctor Jiménez’s career as a comic sidekick. It’s short, at only 92 minutes, but that’s just right for a film like this.
Now, on to the DVD.
Nacho Libre – Widescreen Special Collector’s Edition is presented on a single disc, in 1.85:1 (16×9) widescreen format. Aside from a few grainy shots and some sporadic softness, the transfer looks good. Colours are rich, blacks are deep and it’s mostly sharp. This serves well for a film that displays beautiful Mexican countryside, the rich earth tones of an orphanage monastery and the vibrant colours of Lucha Libre.
The menus are well-designed, animated and include music.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does a fine job. Nacho Libre has a great soundtrack that really fits, and it fills out the sound stage nicely. Dialogue is always clear, and there’s decent use of the surround channels for directional effect. All aspects of the film’s audio are well balanced, which creates a pleasing aural experience.
Audio is also offered in English 2.0 Surround, and French 2.0 Surround. English and Spanish subtitles are available.
The bonus material include an audio commentary, five featurettes, a short behind-the-scenes of Jack Black’s two musical numbers, deleted scenes, promo spots, a photo gallery, some DVD-ROM content and a few trailers.
The audio commentary by Jack Black, director Jared Hess and producer/co-writer Mike White is called Dinner and a Commentary, because the guys are actually eating while they watch. An amusing idea on paper, but man are those eating noises obnoxious. Thankfully, they taper off after about 30 minutes. As for the commentary, it’s not as funny or as informing as I’d hoped. There are a handful of funny and/or interesting anecdotes, but overall it’s just ok.
At first glance, the featurettes section appears to offer a ton of bonus material. However, watch them all and you’ll quickly learn that the offering is not so strong after all. This collection paints a disjointed behind-the-scenes picture, with a lot of overlap and even recycled footage from one featurette to another. We’d be much better served if at least the three featurettes that weren’t created outside of this DVD had been rolled into one.
Detrás de la Cámara is a 30-minute making-of that could have been squeezed into 10. It’s not very informative, and it shows a lot of behind-the-scenes for content that didn’t even make the final film, but it is fairly amusing to watch.
Jack Black Unmasked! is a Nickelodeon promo piece. It’s your usual set up the story, show some preview clips, and throw in a smattering of making-of content. Compared with the previous featurette, this one is an energetic 12 minutes.
Lucha Libre is a three-minute piece about Lucha Libre. It’s interesting, but barely skims the surface of this sport, and it’s actually less informative about Lucha Libre than the previous featurettes.
Hecho en Mexico is even shorter in length, and it’s about working on location in Mexico with a Mexican crew and Mexican actors. It’s really just a couple of minutes’ worth of video montage interspersed with interview clips, and once again there’s better coverage of this topic in the making-of featurettes.
Moviefone Unscripted is of course a promotional interview for Nacho Libre. Here Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez trade off asking each other questions for about nine minutes. It’s amusing, and even has Jack Black suggesting what sounds like a legitimate sequel premise – Nacho Libre going to Japan.
Back to the main special features menu, we find Jack Sings, a pair of short featurettes showing rehearsal footage of Black’s two songs from the film. You can watch them separately or hit ‘play all,’ and they total a little over five minutes.
There are three deleted scenes available. Two are short and definitely didn’t need to be in the film, while one of the scenes, “The Way of the Eagle”, is an eight-minute sequence that presents an alternate version of the gypsy story. The final film version is much better, but it’s nice to see this included here.
There are three promo spots for the film, and they’re obviously aimed at Nickelodeon’s young audience. A bit too juvenile for a second look.
Finally, there’s a couple of DVD-ROM features, and a handful of trailers for other films.
If you like Jack Black and/or Napoleon Dynamite, you need to watch Nacho Libre. If you don’t like either, I still recommend checking this film out, because even though it’s not the funniest movie of late, Jack Black’s Nacho is the best comedy character of 2006. Add to that a solid DVD presentation with plenty of extra features of varying quality, and this is one worthy of any comedy fan’s collection.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary
- Five featurettes
- Jack Sings!
- Deleted scenes
- Promo spots
- Photo gallery
- DVD-ROM features