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NACHO LIBRE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Orphaned and raised in the monastery where he is now the cook, Ignacio - under the pseudonym of (masked) Nacho (Jack Black), indulges his life-long passion for wrestling, incidentally making a bit of money for the kitchen, even though it is strictly forbidden by the church elders. He enlists the help of the starved and skeletal young Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez) for the deadly tag team bouts and while his physique is against him, he perseveres. Naturally, Nacho isn't acting out of purely altruistic measures, as he wishes to help Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), a beautiful Mexican nun who has recently arrived at the monastery.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's more outrageous than hilarious, yet Nacho Libre has the same kind of sweet poignancy its filmmaker Jared Hess brought to his 2004 cult hit Napoleon Dynamite. The film's great strength is the same as its weakness, lying behind the impish furrowed expression and rotund form of the irrepressible Jack Black, who flings himself enthusiastically into the circus-like ring of Lucha Libre wrestling. By writing the character with Black in mind, Hess has created a showcase for the actor, rather than concentrate on the character itself and its wacky reality.

Watching Black in action, mind you, is pretty entertaining. He flits from conservative walnut friar's habit to ridiculous wrestling garb, flesh bulging over scarlet pants fit for a super-hero, matching red boots and gawdy turquoise stretchy tights with red knee pads. The identity of such a wrestler has to remain a secret, so Nacho's full ski-mask with butterfly eyes and letterbox mouth add to the physical ludicracy. With priceless expressions and physical comedy at times reminiscent of the silent era, Black is lovable puppy-dog style. The odd-couple pairing with Héctor Jiménez as Esqueleto, his 'horse face' wrestling partner works well and Jiménez varies his perpetual hang-dog expression with a broad toothy smile that lights up his face. They get paid even when they lose, but when Nacho says he is keen to 'hween', Esqueleto matter of factly retorts 'We never win because you're fat.' Good point.

Set in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, which amongst other things is famous for chocolate and hot chillis, the remote monastery setting in its arid cacti-filled landscape has plenty of rustic charm. The big-hearted fat kid orphan is especially appealing and Mexican television star Ana de la Reguera is serene and angelic as novice Sister Encarnación who Nacho is keen to impress. The scenes in the wrestling ring with its headlocks, body slams and the more exotically named moves such as Camel Crunch and Anaconda Squeeze, are show-biz style acrobatics, and real professional wrestlers (including the midget duo who portray Satan's Helpers) add authenticity. The film does have heart as Nacho strives to feed the orphans, taste some glory and win the girl... but the result is a little manufactured, with the accent being on showcasing its star.

Published January 11, 2007

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

NACHO LIBRE: DVD (PG)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Darius Rose, Moises Arias, Eduardo Gomez, Carlos Maycotte, Richard Montoya, Cesar Gonzalez,

PRODUCER: Jack Black, Mike White, David Klawans, Julia Pistor,

DIRECTOR: Jared Hess

SCRIPT: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike White

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Xavier Perez Grobet

EDITOR: Billy Weber

MUSIC: Danny Elfman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gideon Ponte

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 14, 2006

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: None

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

DVD RELEASE: January 11, 2007







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