So 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."