Nacho Libre SCE
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (7th November 2006).
The Film

Jared Hess' 2004 film "Napoleon Dynamite" was a breath of fresh air to the already crowded comedy genre. In recent times we've seen the rise of the "high-concept" comedy, this is a film that is unique and original, has mass market appeal, is almost always story specific and the comedy potential should be glaringly obvious and a name star must usually be attached to the project to make it a 'vehicle' for them. Example: A quirky Mexican priest played by Jack Black teams up with a street peasant and moonlights as a wrestler so he can feed an orphanage full of kids. I wouldn't be surprised if that was their entire pitch to Nickelodeon Films and Paramount Pictures. In any case Hess has returned with yet another quirky comedic offering trying to prove that "Napoleon Dynamite" wasn't just a fluke but only just manages to prove that. "Nacho Libre" is occasionally funny but ultimately doesn't live up to expectations. Cult films cannot simply be made, they just become. I don't think that Hess planned to make a cult film with Dynamite, but rather a quirky original comedy, the result was a cult following surrounding the film as it's popularity grew. With "Nacho Libre", it certainly feels as if they set out to make a cult film...sorry let me rephrase that, a commercial cult film.
"Nacho Libre" employs the talents of Jack Black, being the current comedic flavor of the month since he burnt his way into our psyche's in "High Fidelity" (2000) and subsequently rocking our asses off as a member of the duo Tenacious D. Black's high energy presence commands the screen and doesn't leave a bored individual in sight, his 2003 film "School of Rock" made him a house hold name and Peter Jackson asked Black to basically play himself but just set in the 1930's in his giant sized epic remake of "King Kong" (2005), I don't think this film could be better cast, Black makes the perfect bumbling yet kind hearted Mexican wrestler, he certainly looks the part. However his silly accent and heavy reliance on Black to make a funny expression was just too much, making the film feel like a 92 minute Jack Black show reel of crazy moves and faces he can make while acting goofy in various costumes that range from priest's robes, to puffy shirt to skin tight stretchy pants and a mask.
Don't get me wrong Black's presence is welcomed, I just wish they didn't have to rely on him so much, it truly does get monotonous, besides you have a wealth of other characters you can throw into the mix...
One of the supporting stand-outs is Esqueleto the street peasant played by Héctor Jiménez, who manages to outshine Black on several occasions without having actually said a word, a rare gift indeed. I hope to see more of this relatively new discovery.
I did like many things about this film, there are several scenes of pure hilarity embedded in this film, many of the wrestling scenes are often laugh-out-loud funny, but one of the true highlights of this film was it's wonderful score, despite the many trials and tribulations surrounding it. Originally Beck was going to score the film but Nickelodeon and Paramount thought his music was too out there and weird, and was replaced with a more commercial friendly Danny Elfman. In the end the score is made up of some Beck material and some Elfman material (yet Beck's name does not appear in the credits). From the opening credit song to the very end the score not only suits the tone of the film but is largely memorable (at least to this reviewer).
"Nacho Libre" manages to entertain but doesn't inspire the same level of surprise and amusement that "Napoleon Dynamite" did, Jack Black 's schtick is humorous at first then flounders while the rest of the film tries to stand on its own two feet and only marginally making it. Fans of either Black or Hess are welcomed, otherwise don't rush out for this one.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this widescreen anamorphic transfer is occasionally soft but only with scenes that are slightly blown out, with the majority of others being sharp. Colors range for rich to washed out, the wrestling scenes and interiors are rich and display color beautifully, while the monastery scenes are toned down (this is a stylistic decision and not a fault of the transfer). Blacks are deep and bold and I could not find any compression artefacts however I did notice minor film grain in darker scenes and also some edge-enhancement. Otherwise this is a fine transfer but could use some improvement.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround as well as in French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 track and I was rather underwhelmed by it. I expected to be immersed in the crowd reactions and music of the film. This track wasn't as aggressive as I'd have liked it to be, but on the flip side this is a comedy and most of the film is reliant on visual gags and dialogue, which is clear and distortion free.
Optional subtitles are also included in both English and Spanish.

Extras

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by writer/director Jared Hess, co-writer/producer Mike White and actor Jack Black. As the participants order and eat dinner they talk about the film before them and it's not exactly what I was expecting either. I was expecting a high energy track that divulged a lot of information but that was also entertaining and funny, instead I got the opposite. The track was slow, had many silent gaps and was only occasionally funny in this series of conversations that focused on what ever they found funny onscreen, a location, or prop, they talk about various cast members and most especially about continuity errors but all these comments are brief and do not provide any insight into the making of the film. Overall this was a rather disappointing track.

Next is a series of 5 featurettes that include:

- "Detras De Le Camara" which runs for 28 minutes 32 seconds. This is an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film as we follow the various cast and crew during the production. This featurette is set out much like a production diary as it looks at various aspects of the production ranging from how the key personnel got involved, shooting in Mexico and a fly on the wall look at the filming of several scenes.

- "Jack Black Unmasked!" runs for 12 minutes 37 seconds and is an EPK clip aimed at kids which follows Black on the set of the film from the start of filming to the and looks at the wrestling scenes, a tour of the set and a look at the stunts for the film.

- "Lucha Libre" runs for 3 minutes 13 seconds and focuses on the history, pride and cultural importance of the Lucha Libre as various members of the Mexican crew talk about what this sport means to them.

- "Hencho en Mexico" runs for 2 minutes 27 seconds and takes a brief look at making this film on location in Mexico and utilizing Mexican crew and actors in smaller parts.

- "Moviefone Unscripted with Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez" runs for 9 minutes 12 seconds and is promotional interview clip as Black and Jiménez ask each other questions submitted by fans.

Two additional behind-the-scenes clips are included called "Jack Sings" which includes:
- "La Cancion De Ramses" which runs for 3 minutes 46 seconds, here we see Jack and director Hess work out the song before filming and we are also given a brief glimpse into the shooting of that scene.
- "La Cancion De Encarnacion" runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds this is basically the same thing as above instead focuses on a different song that Nacho sings about Encarnacion.

Next up is a collection of 3 deleted scenes that include:

- "The Way Of The Eagle" which runs for 7 minutes 57 seconds, this scene sees a sequence where Nacho and Esqueleto search for the Gypsy Emperor so they can attain the way of the eagle. But the emperor requests they perform some tasks before he gives them what they seek.
- "Poem For Ramses" runs for 41 seconds, at the Party for Ramses, his manager's fat daughter recites a sad poem to the wrestling champion.
- "Ramses Gets Jumped" runs for 53 seconds, while at the cemetery Ramses is attacked by a gang of silver-colored jump-suit wearing thugs and beats them all.

Following that are a collection of 3 promo spots, these were broadcast on TV during the film's theatrical run and include:

- "History Of Heroes" which runs for 31 seconds.
- "He Fights..." which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Action Figures" which runs for 32 seconds.

An "El Tigre" promo spot is next and runs for 1 minute 55 seconds, this is simply a commercial for a new Nickelodeon animated TV series.

This disc also includes a series of 3 photo galleries that include:

- "On Set" which consists of 55 images taken during the production of the film of the cast and crew.
- "Luchdores" which consists of 53 images of the colorful cast of Mexican wrestlers seen in the film.
- "Nacho Especial" which consists of 41 unaltered images taken for promotion and publicity purposes.

A collection of bonus trailers are also included for:

- "Flushed Away" which runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds.
- "Barnyard" which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- "Mission Impossible III" which runs for 1 minute 49 seconds.
- "An Inconvenient Truth" which runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- "Over The Hedge" which runs for 39 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are some DVD-ROM content that includes:

- "Nacho Libre" Comic Book Creator, an interactive feature that allows you to make a comic book featuring the wrestling hero by using movie scenes, clip art, tag lines, and icons
to create the comics.
- Theatrical Website Archive, which includes all the content that was available on the official site, which includes the video confessionals among other things.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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