Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nacho Libre

Year 8, Day 355 - 12/20/16 - Movie #2,497

BEFORE: We're really getting down to it now - after tonight's film I've got just two more to go, then comes my 2nd Christmas film which will also be Movie #2,500 and the end of Year 8.  Then comes actual Christmas, and a few days off which I'll probably spend trying to figure out where I could possibly start Movie Year 9.  That's not easy, because it's not just the films on the watchlist, I've got to think about what other films from 2016 I missed and am likely to get copies of, plus what movies are coming out next year that I'm going to want to link to.  Working all of that into a coherent chain is nearly impossible, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.  

The worst thing would be to get down to 50 or 60 movies on the list that share no actors in common - no, no, that's almost unthinkable.  I have to be aware of all of the connections to prevent that.  Take tonight's film, it's been on the watchlist for at least a year and a half, maybe longer, because I had no other Jack Black films, not since watching "The Holiday" during February's romance chain and essentially stranding "Nacho Libre" at the bottom of the list.  And since it has no other stars, except for one character actor, the only way to link to it was to come up with two other Jack Black films to watch, which I (eventually) found.  So Mr. Black carries over from "Kung Fu Panda", and he'll be here tomorrow as well.


THE PLOT: Berated all his life by those around him, a monk follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a Luchador (Mexican wrestler).

AFTER: I remember hearing about this film when it was released in 2006, but then it disappeared rather quickly, and now I know why.  I think expectations were high because it was the second feature directed by Jared Hess, who directed "Napoleon Dynamite", and people thought maybe lightning could strike twice, but it wasn't to be.  That first film was so quirky, so out there that it grabbed people's attention and didn't let go - how much of that was due to the actors involved, I wonder?  That dance scene from "Napoleon Dynamite" and the scenes right after it, where everyone's lives are shown to be changing for the better, still warm my heart.  But was it just the music that stirred those emotions and helped set the scene?  

Because this film has all of the quirk of "Napoleon", but none of the heart.  And things just sort of happen in a strung-together way, but with no real sense of purpose, or even a lot of cause and effect.  What's left is quite singular - this guy wants to be a wrestler, so he wrestles.  Then he wrestles some more, then some problems arise, but they're solved by more wrestling.  Where's the "Rocky"-like training sequence?  Where's the mean old miser who's threatening to shut down the orphanage?  Where's the crippling fear of performing in front of crowds that our hero needs to overcome?  Now, I'm not saying these tropes SHOULD have been part of the film, but if they HAD, at least we'd have a little more than we were given, which didn't feel like very much.

I'm not even sure why wrestling is forbidden by the monastery - there's probably nothing in the Bible about Luchadores, right?  And the way that Ignacio (Nacho) meets his wrestling partner, by fighting over donated tortilla chips, well, it just feels forced.  I couldn't find any logical path in the plot to explain anything.  The whole side plot with the guy telling him to eat eagle eggs was a weird tangent, too, that went exactly nowhere.  Why wouldn't anyone, even a simpleton like Nacho, think that maybe through training and exercise he could maybe improve his wrestling skills a little?  

Everything after that just seemed like random happenstance, both the ups and the downs of his wrestling career.  A character who demonstrated even a little bit of control over his own life would have been more interesting to watch, instead of someone who's essentially the "Forrest Gump" of Mexican wrestling.  Maybe it's me, maybe I don't understand enough about what makes one Luchador favored over the other, or really much about why it's popular, either.

Also starring Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Peter Stormare, Carla Jimenez, Richard Montoya, Cesar Gonzalez, Moises Arias, Darius Rose, Donald Chambers, Craig Williams.

RATING: 3 out of 10 ears of corn

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