Ignacio (Jack Black) has never been particularly adept at anything but he has great passion for the things that matter to him: cooking and wrestling. Growing up in a Mexican orphanage ‘Nacho’ always dreamt of becoming a “luchador”--the term for a Mexican wrestler--and he even had the paunch to boot but alas it was highly forbidden by the religious orphanage. Now grown up he works as a chef for the only home he has ever known. He’s subjected to constant criticism at the hands of monks for the slop he calls food but claims he isn’t paid enough for quality ingredients. So as he sees it his only solution for more money is to pursue the forbidden fruit of becoming a luchador. He picks up a rail-thin peasant (Hector Jimenez) along the way to form a tag-team duo. Together they’re so horrendous that fans line up just for a laugh. But that makes them underdogs and we all know the fate of underdog characters in movies.
Jack Black maybe the best comedic actor of his extraordinarily gifted generation is a sight to behold. In Nacho Libre his mere pose which invariably sees him showcasing his belly as if a trophy is enough to arouse laughter. But once he opens his mouth forget it! Nacho’s broken English-and-Spanish dialect is tailor-made for Black as is his character’s penchant to break into Tenacious D-style song to profess his love for a nun (Ana de la Reguera). The problems with Black are due to his improper utilization at times (see “direction”) not his performance which is about as flawlessly inane as verbal/physical comedy gets. He taps into mania with an ease that hasn’t been seen since John Belushi. As Nacho’s equally hopeless sidekick Esqueleto Jimenez garners his fair share of laughs thanks mostly to the wrestling scenes. But his high-pitched yelps forced ineptitude and blank expressions grow old quickly.
Director Jared Hess should’ve quit after his first feature Napoleon Dynamite. Only because expectations for his follow-up in this case Libre simply cannot be met. That said he doesn’t only make sophomore mistakes; there is promise and talent on full display here. For instance Hess again exhibits an ability to find and/or create the most outlandish characters from the star all the way down to the unknown Mexican extras. But even at just over 90 minutes long the film drags and seems like a hilarious skit stretched way too far. That’s because although conceptually hilarious the story (which Hess co-wrote with wife Jerusha and veteran Mike White) is as thin as Nacho is portly. And as Hess has learned the hard way with bigger budgets come bigger constraints such as not-so-subtle humor (fart jokes pratfalls) to appease the teen masses. Hess’ fatal flaw however despite what will again be an underrated offbeat effort was to not stray further from his trademark movie thus keeping the animal that is Black caged--albeit in a large cage.
There really is no accounting for taste, especially in the minds of youngsters. Will Smith and his summer box-office disappointment "Wild Wild West" grabbed three awards at Nickelodeon’s 13th annual Kids’ Choice Awards taped Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Smith won three orange blimps for favorite song ("Wild Wild West"), favorite song from a movie (ooh … guess the song) and favorite male singer.
Rosie O'Donnell (who emceed the event) and Adam Sandler each won two awards. O’Donnell, in fact, picked up the highest honor of the evening, the Hall of Fame Award for her humor and charity work.
Other orange blimp winners included the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Melissa Joan Hart and Mandy Moore.
And in a surprise career move, Robert De Niro (yes, Robert De Niro) presented an award, as did LL Cool J, 98 Degrees, Carly Pope and Leslie Bibb from the WB’s "Popular" and Mel Gibson.
GARBO’S SECRETS INTACT: Historians unsealed more than 100 letters and other correspondence between Greta Garbo and Mercedes De Acosta on Saturday, but anyone hoping that rumors of a lesbian love affair between the actress and her socialite friend would be confirmed are likely to be disappointed. Garbo's grandniece, Gray Reisfield Horan, told the Associated Press, "I see nothing that refers to a liaison … I don't think there's much here to back it up. I only knew her to be interested in men." The items were unsealed 10 years after Garbo’s death, as she requested in her will. Garbo’s estate won’t let the media quote the letters, but it’s possible the letters may be published in a book.
LATIN SIZZLE: Actors Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz, along with singers Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, were among the Hispanic performers who were honored Sunday in Pasadena, Calif., at the fifth annual American Latino Media Arts Awards.
ALMA kudos also went to Latin tube talents Hector Elizondo of "Chicago Hope," Wilson Cruz of "Party of Five" and Laura Ceron of "ER."
Ten musical performers were recognized, including the Backstreet Boys, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan (with 'N Sync), Enrique Iglesias, Mariah Carey, Rage Against the Machine and Santana. Martin nabbed the male entertainer of the year award for shaking his bon-bon while Lopez, also of bon-bon fame, and Aguilera, of future bon-bon fame, received awards for female entertainer and new female entertainer, respectively.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MOUSE: Disney has paid horror director Clive Barker an advance of $4 million against nearly $8 million for all movie and ancillary rights to four unpublished fantasy novels he is writing. Collectively, the books carry the tentative title ``The Abarat Quartet.''
BLAME CANADA: Actor, Canadian and former Julia Roberts fiance Kiefer Sutherland joined thousands of protesters in Calgary, Alberta, on Saturday to protest plans to privatize some of Canada’s public health care system. Perhaps he was worried about his own benefits, since his acting career has apparently gone into cardiac arrest.
MURDOCH HAS CANCER: Doctors are planning several weeks of radiation treatment for Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch. In a statement published by Murdoch's newspapers over the weekend, a spokesman said: "His doctors have told Mr. Murdoch the prognosis is very good. ... He has no intention of changing his work schedule."
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: All it takes to own the pair of ruby red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" is a whole lotta of cash. A pristine pair of slippers made for Judy Garland will be sold to the highest bidder May 24 by Christie's auction house, and collectors estimate the pair could fetch $750,000. Also available are the Cowardly Lion's "Oz" costume, a Rolls-Royce from the James Bond classic "Goldfinger" and Christopher Reeve's Superman capes and body stockings.