Reviewing the Reviews: 'Nacho Libre'

1735__nacho_lSo the verdict is in: The nation’s critics have a love-hate relationship with Jack Black’s latest comedy, Nacho Libre (our own Owen Gleiberman gives it a D+). Me, well, I have absolutely no intention of seeing it — I’d rather spend my $10 on the new Matrix sequel (especially since Keanu snagged Sandra Bullock to pinch-hit for Carrie-Anne Moss) — but for those of you still on the fence, here’s a little bit of back-and-forth from the reviewing community:

James Verniere, Boston Herald: "Forget about those corporate flunkies Wolverine and Superman. The summer’s most winning superhero is Nacho Libre, and his only superpowers are su corazon and a move he calls ‘Wind of a Lion.’"

Dana Stevens, Slate: ”The story and dialogue appeal to a xenophobic slacker complacency that regards other cultures as little more than a source of campy knickknacks. As for the plentiful sight gags, they rarely rise above the level of ha-ha-he-fell-down, and occasionally sink below it: During the inevitable training montage, Nacho, for no apparent reason, hurls a cow patty at the head of his wrestling buddy, Esqueleto. Yeah, throwing s*** in your partner’s face — that would be funny. Er … heh.”

Claudia Puig, USA Today: ”It’s comical just to hear Black deliver lines, such as ‘I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny, and I will have my glory days,’ in a Ricardo Montalban-inspired accent. Black is considerably skilled in physical comedy, and his sometimes-overbearing mannerisms are wisely downplayed. Sure, it gets old to see him leap about in tights, boots, cape and unflattering red shorts, but Nacho explains his monk’s robe was ‘estinky.’"

Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide: "It’s a one-gag film that rises or falls on how funny you find the sight of fat, grease-slicked Jack Black crammed into spandex pants and capering like an epileptic lamb. Whether the film was meant to play to the most immature impulses of 7-year-olds or just wound up that way courtesy of Black’s enthusiastic wind-breaking, mugging, bean-slop snorting, butt-cheek clenching and nonsequitur snickering in a strangled, weirdly accented voice, it’s sheer, unadulterated slob comedy."

Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News: "Nacho Libre sets [Black] free from the buttoned-down monkey wrangler [of King Kong], and from almost every other comic constraint, making him — and the movie — utterly irresistible. As he did in his breakthrough performance in School of Rock, Black locates the anarchic spirit in a marginal character who doesn’t want to overthrow the system, just find a place for himself in it."

Bob Bloom, Lafayette Journal and Courier: "Nacho Libre is so bad — and filled with so many below-the-border clichés and stereotypes — that it can set U.S.-Mexican relations back 50 years. It could be used as a bargaining chip in further negotiations on the illegal immigration problem. President Bush could threaten to flood our south of the border neighbor with prints of the film if any future talks go bad. But even that would be cruel and unusual punishment."

Comments (15 total) Add your comment
  • Ep Sato

    Funny how all the reviewers who have been calling this movie racist are NOT latino. Wassup with that? My brown azz and my hermana girlfriend saw the flick last night and we both thought it was cheesy, but definately “nacho” average movie. Lots of bad puns, sweaty Mexican Wrestlers, hot chicas and beautiful scenery made this a fun one for me. Directed by the cat who did Napoleon Dynamite, this flick treats Mexicans the way Napoleon treated people from Idaho. As unknown to us, fascinating, and in many ways as average as everyone else. Just the other day I was yacking about how irksome it was when a whiteboy played a latino in a flick, but this time it felt like watching Steve Martin think he was Black in “The Jerk”. Was it racist when Steve Martin said “you idiots, I AM a n*gger”?
    Anyone who likes Mexican wrestlers, Napoleon Dynamite (didn’t EW’s critic hate on that movie, too? Didn’t that flick become the sleeper hit of the summer? It too had a love hate relationship with the critics),or Jack Black movies will dig this. Also, anyone who has seen enough Mexican movies from the 1960’s and 70’s will totally know where Black’s pencil thin mustache and false Nachismo come from.

  • Dylan

    This movie looks like complete garbage. Stupid and unfunny-just like jack black.

  • d.c.

    It’s so funny and about as innocent as you can make a movie nowdays considering this film with the pratfall and crazy characters and meant to not take seriously script… things are not all they seem to be.. A man/chef fights for money to give his student charges better food in lunches? really.. that’s darn hilarious

  • Rochinho

    I just saw Nacho Libre earlier this evening. Frankly, I don’t know what’s going on with the film critics who bash this movie. I loved it – from Jack Black’s hilarious performance to Danny Elfman’s score. The film has a very innocent heart. There are moments in Jared Hess’ direction that reminded me of Wes Anderson. Makes me excited to see what Hess will do as his career progresses.
    I’ve seen The Da Vinci Code, MI:3, X3, and The Break-Up (this summer’s “must-see” movies), and, honestly, I’ve enjoyed Nacho Libre the most. My only guess is that these foul-crying critics are more accurately described as cynics. The movie is great.

  • Chancho

    What is wrong the critics? They hate every movie that becomes a huge hit (THE DA VINCI CODE anyone?) and complain about the fact that every summer movie has some kind of CG effects and not enough heart. This movie had tons of heart! It was definitely the feel-good movie of the summer for me (so far) and I have seen everything else as well. It’s not gonna win any Oscars, but I walked out of there feeling that I got my money’s worth (and that’s really hard to say what with all the crap that Hollywood has been putting out lately). I can’t wait to see it again! And if I could speak to the critics directly I would say, “GET THAT CORN OUT OF MY FACE!”

  • Stephanie Travitsky

    He went from King Kong to King Crap! Then again, it could have been worse. Has anyone seen Envy? OOOHHH that was bad!

  • Jenny

    This is a very funny and sweet movie. Jack Black’s accent just adds to the silliness. As a Latina, I found no offense in it. The movie is an adorable love story.

  • Lutherblue

    I saw Nacho Libre last night, and i can honestly say it is Jack Blacks best comedy. It was hilarious. The scene with the midget wrestlers had myself, and the entire audience in in tears from laughter. The best thing about the movie, is it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It, like life, is absurdly funny when looked at closely.
    All i can say is… NACHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • tom

    Love Jack Black, Love napoleon dynamite- Hated this movie -people were walking out—only 1 lady laughing in packed theater….c’mon Jack this was bad…

  • dma69

    Love JB but hated this movie. But then again, I hated Napoleon Dynamite also. The Hesses make boring films. JB was not himself in this film.

  • Liza

    I don’t think I hated a movie as much as I hated Napoleon Dynamite, so there is no way I’m going to see this one, even thought I like JB, I’ll pass.

  • Napoleon Fan

    The critics are right to slam this film on the mat because Jared Hess, who can make brilliant comedy, is out of touch, lost in his fantasies apparently. Don’t waste your time unless you are into professional wrestling or are a JB fan or like bad Ed Wood style movies. The vague allusions to Napoleon Dynamite are painful. How the mighty have fallen.

  • Phil

    One of the funniest movies I have ever seen. My wife wrote it off as a B Grade Mexican movie and didnt give it a chance so maybe you need to be on the right “wavelength” like myself and my daughter and work colleagues and some of the reviewers here and critics to “get it”.
    I think it is a work of comic genius. Vastly better than School of Rock or Napoleon Dynamite or any Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson or Will Ferrell comedies.
    We spend half the day at work quoting the lines with Jack Black delivery and Nacho accent:-
    “Maybe its time I got a new duty”
    “I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny and I will have my glory day under the hot sun”
    “Lets get down to the nitty gritty”
    “That … is a crazy lady”
    “I dont believe in God I believe in science”
    “My life is FANTASTIC”
    “They dont think I know a load of crap about the gospel but I DO!”.
    Amazing that it it is also suitable for small children-there are no bad language, sex, drug or alcohol references.

  • Rob L

    This movie is great! It has great laughs, warmth, music, filming, and characters. Every scene is filled with humorous and entertaining touches. It hearkens back to an older way of making comedies (farce) with a little bit of the modern mixed in (farts). It certainly will not appeal to those (the impatient, the mindless, or the drugged-up) preferring modern “below the belt” comedy that is unabashedly sexual, audacious, and raunchy. In contrast, Nacho Libre depends on understanding or being open to traditional Mexican culture. Against this backdrop it is nothing short of brilliant! It employs non-professional Mexican actors, satirizes many Mexican/Catholic religious practices, features great latin-flavored music, spoofs Mexican wrestling, and warms your heart with a simple plot about poor pathetic orphans. The director does a great job, meticulously ensuring that every expression, scene, line, prop, or character adds to the fun. I really liked this movie and highly recommend it!

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