Jared Hess certainly has a unique vision in his movies.
Basically, to call this humor sophomoric would be a compliment.
Nacho Libre is one of those movies that you may not like, but you can't help laughing at nonetheless. This film stars Jack Black as Ignacio/Nacho Libre. He is a cook in a monastery who does double duty as a wrestler to help raise money for the children in the orphanage he works for. What is essentially a kid's movie is wrapped up in lots of today's ironic, random humor, and while I did laugh throughout this film, I couldn't help wonder if in a few years we might look at the oeuvre of director Jared Hess and wonder if he ever made a film that held up. I think that he will always be known for Napoleon Dynamite, and because that film captured something in the cultural zeitgeist, it will most likely have a longer shelf life than any of his subsequent work.
Also, comedy is such that sometimes people stop being funny and don't realize it. Nacho Libre is one of those movies that employs a certain kind of humor, and I can't help but think that in 10 years this might be one of those movies that very few will admit to watching.
Okay, sit back and get ready to hear Jack Black, Jared Hess, and screenwriter Mike White have a good time together. These guys talk about what is and isn't a special effect in the movie, looking cool as you're riding a chariot, their favorite actors in the scenes, and just about everything else. While sometimes having three people in the commentary booth can get messy, Black, Hess, and White don't talk enough to ever talk over one another. That one aspect alone makes this very easy to listen to.
There are five featurettes to be watched on this DVD. They are all similar to one another in that they look at the making of Nacho Libre. They have titles like Jack Black Unmasked! which is a behind the scenes look on the set, Moviefone Unscripted with Jack Black and Hector Jimenez where these two guys interview each other, and Detras de la Camara, where Jack Black takes you into the acting process. All in all, I found these to be a lot of fun because Jack Black is such a big part of them. Even though I may not always like his humor, I thought he did what he does very well here.
Yes, he does ladies and gentlemen. Here he performs the songs "La Cancion de Ramses" and "La Cancion De Encarnacion." These aren't taken from the movie. Rather we see Jared Hess and Mike White watching Jack perform these songs looking like Jack Black and not his character. I really liked that he put the songs in perspective before he sang them (as if anyone who hasn't seen the movie is just going to watch these features), but I also like how the creators of the DVD did this, because they actually had to expand some effort putting it together.
Surprisingly, they only have three of these on the DVD and I thought there would be a lot more. They are "The Way of the Eagle," "Poem for Ramses," and "Ramses Gets Jumped." These were cool to watch but it seems like they were cut more for time purposes than anything else. I think that Hess and Co. knew the kind of film they were making, and there wasn't any need to go overboard or make scenes play longer than they needed to.
The contents of this DVD-Rom are "
Nacho Libre Comic Book Creator" and "Original Theatrical Web Site Archive." I didn't have a lot of time to go through this portion of the DVD, but I think that it's actually a really neat addition. To be able to go back and look over this film from it's inception is a really nice treat for filmmakers. Plus, I think kids will get a kick out of having something so accessible for one of their favorite movies.
Widescreen Version Enhanced for 16:9 TVs. This movie looks really well made. Jared Hess is the master of understatement. He's a more accessible Wes Anderson. His movies have a light look and feel, but at the same time they are very interesting in a visual sense. Also, he accomplishes so much by not moving the camera every which way, that I think he ends up getting more out of his locations and his characters. Overall, the DVD transfer makes the images of Jack Black in the Nacho Libre custom, sparkle.
Dolby Digital: English 5.1 Surround - English and French 2.0 Surround. I have to admit that as much as I don't care for Jack Black's music, I did enjoy the soundtrack here. There is something about taking the songs that sound like the Latin music I hear from time to time as I go on walks around my neighborhood, be upended by the vocal stylings of Jack Black. There is a fine line between imitation and making fun of something and Jack Black seems to walk it in everything he does.
Jack Black abounds on this front cover that I think is taken from a one-sheet from this movie's theatrical run. The back shows off some images from the movie that let you know just how zany it is going to be. There is a Special Features listing, a description of Nacho Libre, a cast list, and some technical specs. Something tells me this film is going to get rereleased at some point with a Lucha Libre mask.
All in all, Nacho Libre is the kind of movie that I think kids will enjoy more than adults. I think this could be Jared Hess's biggest gift because he is able to tap into the children's and adult audience at the same time. As a result, his movies seem to do well both in the theater and when they come out on DVD. Despite how good or bad I may think this movie is (I couldn't help but feel that Jack Black and the entire cast were winking at me throughout this movie), it's ability not to become the very films that it is parodying is something to marvel at. While I don't know that I would ever see it again, I will say that I am glad that I had the chance to be able to sit through this film at least once.
Nacho Libre is a solid family film that should do very well on DVD because it has a little something for everyone.
Nacho Libre was released June 16, 2006.