Nacho Libre

SITTING ON TOP OF THE CURLED Jack Black is pinned and tragically unmasked.
SITTING ON TOP OF THE CURLED Jack Black is pinned and tragically unmasked.

Time Out says

Intense jiggle boy Jack Black needs just one thing for his Holy Roller shtick to work: the rapt attention of innocents. When it’s kids learning the ABCs of a daily diet of Zep (School of Rock), the balance is perfect, with Black’s mania redeemed by wiser children. In Nacho Libre, the kids are wide-eyed Mexicans. Black plays one too—a monastery cook turned heroic luchador—and you get the sense that complaining about such casual racism is grounds for a cool-crowd body slam.

Utah-based director Jared Hess played a similar game with his absurdly overpraised Napoleon Dynamite, which managed to convert tiresome, milk-fed irony into shit with the introduction of Afro-American salvation (the LaFawnduh character; Napoleon’s funky dance). Hess probably giggled over Black’s hot-tamale accent and parody of puffed pride. Does it work? Only in spurts: Black crams more twisted glee into singing the name of his object of affection, Encarnacin (soap star De la Reguera), than seems possible. And Black’s scrawny tag-team partner, Esqueleto (Jimnez), has a funny, high-pitched shriek. But even as a cartoon, Nacho Libre feels both cheesy and undernourished. Black, much smarter than this, needs to start making better choices muy pronto. (Now playing; click here for venues.)—Joshua Rothkopf



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