Nacho Libre (HD DVD)

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Somehow I was hypnotized by the image of Jack Black in a leotard and cape. That’s saying a lot about a DVD cover. It’s a fun, colorful package with menus that are borderline comic book style, which I love, and have some lines from the movie piped in to give them a bit more life.

Features: 6/10

  • Audio Commentary With Jack Black, Jared Hess and Mike White – I’m sure it’s just me, but Mike White and Jared Hess seem somewhat pretentious in a boring kind of way. I’m not sure what the means exactly, but if you listen to the commentary or watch the extras featuring the cast and crew, you might know what I’m saying. Something happened to these boys when their initial introductions onto the Hollywood scene, School of Rock and Napoleon Dynamite hit it big, like it went to their artsy-turned-Hollywood filmmaker heads and they don’t have the kind of charm I wanted to find falling from their mouths. So, this commentary didn’t hold my interest for long. Jack Black is funny, as always, but that’s not enough
  • Behind The Scenes Featurette’s – Jack Black does wrestling training…oh my. Along with seeing Mr. Black in his tights, sweaty and strong and sexy..oh, sorry, I digress, this feature unfortunately flashed some light on the writer and director illuminating some things I didn’t want to see. “Unfortunately?” You ask. Well, Jared Hess was a mystery to me, even after Napoleon Dynamite and all the mega press that came after it. I had never seen him in an interview or even see him at all to be honest. This behind the scenes just, hmmm, how do I put this? He seems like a nice enough guy, with a decent sense of humor and all, but he’s got that snobby artist “I’m a beatnik groovy filmmaker with a quirky style (nose slightly in the air) to appeal to the cute little people who think they understand my humor, and academic types who chuckle at my brilliance.” Yea, it’s amazing how I got all that from the little bits and pieces on this feature:) I thought I might have been judging too severely, but when his wife was talking and made a couple of comments with that feigned modesty about how since Napoleon was so popular..blah blah blah, and then how Nacho Libre will appeal to the Napoleon crowd and how it’s got Jared’s style all over it…etc. I just found it disappointing in some way. Other than that, eh hem, it’s a good extra with a lot of Jack Black in his tights, sweaty and strong, and sexy….:)
  • Jack Sings Featurette – Jack Black does a couple of little songs in the movie that his character composes, and even though it seems like they are totally ad-libbed, this extra shows how hard he and his writer partner Mike White work to write them to fit in just right. The party song is the funniest, and very likely the most memorable part of the movie, so it’s fun to see how it evolves from a few lines and random thoughts to the classic Black performance of a tune that will haunt your mind for several days.
  • Deleted Scenes – I think you can tell a lot about a finished film by the deleted scenes. Call me crazy, I can take it, but sometimes you see the deleted scenes and think they wouldn’t have made a difference either way, in or out, but they have some substance and are up to the same quality as the rest of the film. Sometimes you can see why they are cut out for time or repeated story elements, but the quality is still pretty much up to par with the movie as a whole. These deleted scenes are almost embarrassing in some way. The sense of humor is tilted just that much too far that makes them not funny in an uncomfortable way. I felt bad for all the people who took the time to make these scenes and the money it cost to put them on film…harsh, but honest. I think they would have been dead weight in the movie, and then I think of some other scenes that did make it in the film, and wonder why this one made it in and this one didn’t.
  • Promo Spots – These make Nacho Libre look like a total kid’s movie, which is fine since it was made by Nickelodeon Films.
  • Photo Gallery – Photos
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD) – This makes Nacho Libre look like a film by the guy who made Napoleon Dynamite, which is true.

The Movie: 6/10
The box says it all, “If you like Jack Black, you’ll like Nacho Libre”. Without this comic bundle of energy this movie would hit the mat faster than you can say double-twisted-backspank-turnover (not a real wrestling term, by the way). Mexican wrestling, orphans, sexy nun, and chubby fryer with a perm, and a skinny guy with a big smile, these are the elements that come together in this story written by Mike Black and Jared Hess. Gosh, I’m already stuck for something to say that isn’t at least somewhat negative.

Jack Black is funny as hell. His bravery alone, wearing those tights without hesitation, is worthy of a standing ovation. I like a man with a bit of meat on his bones (don’t tell my tall lean husband:)Along with embracing his character’s physique, he does a fine job of doing a comedy version of a Mexican accent. Our friends south of the border might disagree, but I said COMEDY version, so give him some latitude.

As Black does his dandiest to keep every scene lively and going in the quirky direction that Hess, the director, is so fond of, Nacho Libre falters more than enough to make my mind wander occasionally. Between the awkward moments where the rest of the film falls into little unsalvageable cracks, Black’s shining smile and enthusiasm does bring a big grin to my otherwise un-amused cheeks. I’m always craving some kind of special touch when it comes to characters and how they interact with each other. And while there is quite a bit of interesting dialogue, somewhat funny, it never really hits the spot. Dare I say the writer and director were trying too hard to recapture their previously eccentric successes? The look of the film is amazing with so much color, great sets, amazing shots composed with that lovely artistic design in mind that I love. Ok, that’s a positive thing I can say about the film makers, they did a great job making this movie look fantastic. As we all know, that’s what makes a story real dang funny.

The wrestling is cool. It’s not my scene, but it’s entertaining in a crazy way. For our cute little man of God, his aspirations to be a famous wrestler interfere with his need to serve the orphans he’s responsible for feeding everyday. He’s torn between being the holy dude he’s always been, and the glory that follows the famous wrestlers in and around his village. It’s a nice story, until the sexy nun enters the picture. All of sudden it felt manufactured and not so charming.

The side kick enters as a combo Mowgli/Aladdin character who goes on a journey of training and wrestling glory with our hero. There is a hint of Laurel and Hardy, but not enough to jump out and bite ya, in fact it might be my imagination. Then again, I was not that consumed by the movie so my mind did tend to wander.

The foe in the movie is Ramses, and he’s not that big if a deal really. He wears a gold mask and has chicks hanging off his bulging arms, but he’s not much of a “bad guy” if you want to call him that. He growls a lot if that turns your crank. The one thing about Ramses that did win me over was the song that Black ad-libs at a party in Ramses’ honor. Now that was funny. It’s over the top and a tiny bit awkward, but the most memorable scene of the movie.

So, it’s kind of funny, looks great, but it’s all trying a bit too hard and failing to do that thing where the story is ever-so-delicately obscured enough by the idiosyncrasies of the characters to tip that balance of becoming an odd but wonderful movie experience.

Jack Black rocks those tights though!!

Value: 4/10
I understand the appeal of HD DVD. I get that it looks a bunch better, sounds better, etc. It is nicer to look at, yes. Does it mean you should shell out around 30 bucks for Nacho Libre to get a better look at the lovely fleshy belly of Jack Black in truly amazing color and detail? No. The extras are pretty good, but not enough to bump up the price. If you can find the standard version for $10 or so, that would be a fair investment (good luck). Or, better yet, rent it and spend the extra money on your own pair of tights and a cape:)

Overall Score 7/10