Hello, Mr. Chips

Warning: this scene does not appear in the film.
If you watched Napoleon Dynamite and thought to yourself, “This is pretty funny but I wish there had been more Pedro,” then you’re probably going to like Nacho Libre. It’s a whole movie of Pedros. (Except that Ephren Ramirez, who played Pedro, isn’t in this movie.)  It’s all funny Mexicans with funny mustaches… apart from Jack Black, of course, who stars as Ignacio, a Mexican monk who secretly enters wrestling matches to earn money for the orphanage his monestary runs.

Actually, any comparisons of Napoleon Dynamite to this, Jared Hess’ new film, aren’t really fair. Nacho Libre is more than anything a kids movie (which explains all the fart jokes), albeit one with a strange sense of humor and a whole lot of style. But it is more cute than funny. With Black, Hess and Mike White (who wrote School of Rock, not to mention the polarizing Chuck and Buck in which he also starred) there shoulda been more laughs. The two six-year-olds sitting next to me at last night’s press screening seemed to really like it. I liked it ok, but maybe not enough to recommend it.

Your enjoyment of Nacho Libre probably depends on how much you like Jack Black – who’s doing what he always does but now with a funny accent – and wrestling. Even though the story is clearly about a monk who is also a wrestler, you may be surprised by the sheer amount of wrestling in the movie. Those two kids sitting next to me – they liked wrestling a lot.

Nacho2If nothing else, the movie should further the cause of delicious Mexican corn – grilled on the cob, slathered with mayo and then sprinkled with cotija cheese, chili powder and lime. Black’s sidekick in the film has one in his hand in nearly every scene. Good renditions of this in NYC can be found at Bonita and Café Habana.

Addendum: The soundtrack — lots of weird, early-’70s Spanish language soft rock —  is pretty good too and the cinematography by Xavier Pérez Grobet (who has worked on HBO’s Deadwood, among other things) is actually quite lovely. Both of which give it a Wes Anderson sort of feel (I kept thinking of Bottle Rocket). I dunno maybe this is one of those movies that gets funnier the more times you see it. Despite the aformentioned gorgeous cinematography, I bet this may play better on home video. But maybe not.

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