Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

'Nacho Libre' is comedic take on epic plot

Nacho Libre (2006)
Starring: Jack Black, Hector Jimenez, and Ana de la Reguera
Director: Jared Hess
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Nacho (Black) is a friar and cook at an impoverished Mexican monestary and orphanage... with secret dreams of being a professional wrestler. A chance encounter with an impoverished street thief (Jimenez) gives him the inspiraction to start a double-life and earn money to purchase better food for the children: The bum will become "The Skeleton" and Nacho will be a mysterious masked wreslter--together they will be a tag-team that will rise to the very top of the wrestling world!

This was not a movie that looked interesting to me until I saw Jack Black offering to kick Steven Seagal's ass with his fabulous wrestling moves. I still went in not knowing much more about the film than it featured Jack Black as a wanna-be professional Mexican wrestler.

I'm really surprised at the way critics are mostly panning this movie. Not only is "Nacho Libre" a hilarious comedy, but it's got a script that even the most snobbish intellectual (even well-read psuedo-intellectuals!) should be able to enjoy. Pay attention while watching, and you'll see that the storyline pretty much follows to exactly "The Hero's Journey" as outlined by Joseph Campbell. How can a well-read person NOT love a movie that takes a clownish figure through the entirety of archetypal hero's tale (even giving Black's character his own Enkidu?) in the context of bush-league Mexican wrestling and a run-down orphanage.

Jack Black once again appears as his standard loveable loser character, but most of his shtick is limited to his appearances in the wrestling ring, and a disastrous attempt to show off his fighting prowess to the lovely Sister Encarnacion (de la Reguera) without revealing his secret. Because it's in small doses, it becomes some of the most hilarious parts of the film.

Black is supported by an able cast, a well-paced script, and a story that's too subtly clever for the majority of American film critics. These elements all add up to a film that will end up standing as one of the best comedies of 2006.

I highly recommend this movie, especially if you're walking around with a B.A... and I recommend it even more highly if have any interest in seeing how "the hero's journey" is being used in yet another great bit of storytelling.

Oh, and I recommend it even if you're just looking for a damn funny comedy. It's been a while since a film had me laughing so hard my eyes were tearing.

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