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The Inevitable Post on NACHO LIBRE

I have been waiting on discussing NACHO LIBRE because I wanted to withhold judgment until I saw it. Sure I was apprehensive about the Jack Black factor and the whole white-guy-as-Mexican shtick, but being the Lucha Libre mark that I am, I felt I had no choice but to check out the first, and so far only, mainstream American film about masked Mexican wrestling. Well now I have.

Let me start off by saying that this film is drop dead gorgeous. The locations, the wonderful cheesy murals, the cheap wrestling figures and faded Lucha posters, the local extras, everything about it is visually stunning. Just the fetishistic divine perfection of Lucha legend Silver King as the golden-hooded, pink-three-piece-suited rudo Ramses alone was worth my 10 bucks. Every second he’s on the screen is awe-inspiring. I had to change my panties twice during the scene where he gets oiled up and ready for the ring. I also loved the two ancient rudos who slash Nacho’s tires. You could use the deep grooves in their blading-scared foreheads to store your CD collection. The minis, the Luchadoras, the authentic audiences, the homemade costumes and capes and hoods, everything in and around the matches was amazing. Then there was Jack Black.

Clearly I was alone in this, since the whole rest of the theater seemed to crack up every time he opened his mouth, but everything about Jack Black in this film seemed utterly disingenuous and overblown. That phony Speedy Gonzales accent just set my teeth on edge and his non-stop, frenetic mugging and squirming was painful to watch. What made the character of Napoleon Dynamite funny was his earnest dorky seriousness. We’ve all known a million kids just like him. Jack Black’s Nacho is so spastically over-the-top that he ceases to be anything but a winking, sneering parody of himself. All the other elements were so flawlessly real that it made Black’s hyper-artificial performance that much harder to take. Of course, I knew that going in, so I just endured him, gritting my teeth through the pointless toast eating and poo flinging, the way you endure your crush’s annoying little brother just to be near the person you desire.

The real killer was what wasn’t there. This film was so full of missed opportunities that I could spend all night listing my own coulda-shoulda wish list of stuff I really wanted to see but didn’t. Like the gym. There was more than one scene in which Nacho and his partner talk outside the amazingly authentic looking Gimnasio de Lucha Libre, but they never actually go inside. Instead we have to endure a lame and pointless “training sequence” in which Nacho smears cow shit on his partners face for no apparent reason. The biggest WTF moment in the film is when Nacho’s hood is torn off at the beginning of the big match against Ramses, and Nacho makes no effort to hide his face at all. They just keep on fighting like it’s no big deal. Then, after he’s been fighting hoodless for several minutes, all the orphans show up to cheer him on in handmade Nacho hoods, a scene that would have been genuinely touching and brilliant, except that he was no longer hooded. What was the point in that? What you want to see is a close up of his hooded head under Ramses’ boot and then cut to all the kids showing up in their own handmade hoods and then back to his hood. Without him in the hood, it just doesn’t have the same visual impact. Sigh...

I knew what I was in for from the get go but I’m glad I saw it. I can definitely say that it's worth seeing, but see it with a grain of salt. Or bring the whole shaker, just to be on the safe side.

On the other hand, my publisher tells me there’s been a modest spike in HOODTOWN sales because of NACHO LIBRE, so I can’t really complain.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
tjcrowley
Jun. 18th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
My theory is this -- the film was funded by Nickelodeon, so you just sat through a kid's film -- with all its associated fart jokes, poo-flinging, and .. well, I kinda like toast. I've never been much of a fan of the Nickelodeon presentation style, but I like Jack Black and toast so I laughed a bit, especially at that stupid little cart he was driving around in. I agree with the lost opportunities, but I'm primarily looking at those kids that are gonna be out in the ring in 10 years -- maybe one of them will bring back the old school. Then again, maybe they'll be an idiot like Jack Black.

luchaninjakeith
Jun. 18th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
Just learned that legendary photo-journalist Lourdes Grobet was the advisor on all the lucha scenes and art-directed a lot of the ephemera. Explains a lot of why that stuff looked so goddamn good!
loosechanj
Jun. 18th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
The real killer was what wasn’t there. This film was so full of missed opportunities that I could spend all night listing my own coulda-shoulda wish list of stuff I really wanted to see but didn’t.

That's Hollywood for you. God forbid someone should have to endure accepting something they don't understand, without any sort of explanation.

I had to change my panties twice during the scene where he gets oiled up and ready for the ring.

This sentence makes me want to go work out for several hours.
faustfatale
Jun. 18th, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
You can't work out in an American gym and get a build like Silver King. Nothing gives you that thick, solid barrel-chested build but a lifetime of Lucha Libre.
loosechanj
Jun. 18th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't go to the gym.
styggian
Jun. 21st, 2006 06:45 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )