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Paramount Home Video presents
"I was wondering if you would like to join me in my quarters this night...for some toast."
DVD ReviewJack Black is one of the most unconventional movie stars currently raking in the big bucks. Sure, he's downright hilarious and charming, but he isn't exactly the kind of guy you'd necessarily expect to share top-billing in a romantic comedy. Yet, Black did play Gwyneth Paltrow's boyfriend in Shallow Hal and is Kate Winslet's prospective beau in the upcoming The Holiday, so it's apparent that the big studios have the utmost confidence in him. It's this amazing versatility that makes Black a star; a quality he shows off with mixed results in Nacho Libre.
After seeing the trailer for this 2006 summer release, my expectations for Nacho Libre went through the roof. Not only was Black involved, but the director of Napoleon Dynamite, Jared Hess, was at the helm as well. But there are drawbacks to lofty expectations—after seeing the picture the day after it opened, I left feeling slightly disappointed, with a sort of empty feeling. While I thought Black was in top form, the story was virtually nonexistent, and it was just missing that special "something." Still, I was ready to give it another shot, given that quirky comedies like this tend to play better on home video.
Ignacio (Black) is a hapless, horrible cook at the monastery in Mexico where he was raised. He is haunted by his lifelong dream to become a famous luchador, a professional wrestler like El Santo. His desire to wrestle increases when a beautiful nun enters the picture, Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), so Ignacio attends a wrestling match and witnesses how popular the great Ramses (Cesar Gonzalez) is with the ladies. This moment is a revelation, as Ignacio changes his name to Nacho, partners up with the homeless Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), and enters the ring, with losing results. Nacho and Esqueleto continue to be paid to lose their matches, as people flock to watch them fail miserably night in and night out. However, when the monastery learns of Ignacio/Nacho's new hobby, they kick him out, leaving this troubled soul to choose between God and being a luchador.
Low and behold, watching Nacho Libre on DVD did prove to be a much more rewarding experience than I had in the theater. With my expectations now out the door, I was able to sit back and enjoy the sight gags and Black's hilarious accent. The lack of plot substance didn't matter this time, in what amounts to 90 minutes of Black being Black. Good luck staying in your chair during the wrestling scenes, and marvel at his facial expressions when he's performing such a menial task as driving his motorcycle/cart contraption. The quirkiness of the story (co-written by Mike White of Chuck and Buck fame) was more effective the second time around, and the Esqueleto character much more appealing. At home, it was also easier to appreciate the wonderful score by Danny Elfman, with some help from Beck and from Black himself.
Black is going back to his roots for the upcoming Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, teaming with old friend Kyle Gass to bring his two-man rock band to the silver screen. This project promises to be quite a bit less restrained than Nacho Libre, but, after giving it a second-chance, I'm fully confident that this goodnatured picture will always stand out among his filmography. If not, at least his amazing "stretchy pants" will never be forgotten.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is one of the best of the year, but it helps that Jared Hess' visual style is impressive to begin with. We get a true feel for the poor areas of Mexico, with the sun-drenched landscapes and warm colors. Red is a dominant color, and this transfer handles it very well, with no instances of bleeding to speak of. There are a few instances of softness and a slight bit of grain, but the images are nicely detailed for the most part.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: The audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, with the former winning this battle easily. While both feature active surrounds and nice channel separation, the 5.1 benefits from a wider dynamic range, and much more aggressive bass, especially during the wrestling matches. The music is given plenty of room to shine in both tracks, but again, the greater depth is found on the 5.1 option. Dialogue clarity is flawless in both mixes.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Flushed Away, Barnyard, Mission Impossible: III, An Inconvenient Truth, Over the Hedge, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera
3 TV Spots/Teasers
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jack Black, Jared Hess, and Mike White.
Packaging: Keep Case
There are a total of five making-of pieces in all, beginning with the longest, and most informative, Detrás de la Cámara. This 28-minute segment is an intimate look at the making of the film, via hand-held cameras and cast interviews. Black is very funny here, given free reign to go crazy.
Jack Black Unmasked! runs for 12 minutes and is more on-set footage. This is more of a standard EPK piece, but it is still very funny.
Lucha Libre is a three-minute look at Mexican wrestling, Hecho en Mexico is a two-minute piece about the locations for Nacho Libre, and Moviefone Unscripted with Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez is a nine-minute sit-down with the film's two main actors.
Jack Sings is a pair of clips showing him singing the songs La Canción De Ramses and La Canción De Encarnación. There are also three deleted scenes that last for over nine minutes, and include an extended sequence with Peter Stormare.
We also get four TV promo spots, a photo gallery, and previews for other Paramount Home Video releases.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsDespite it's disappointing showing at theaters Nacho Libre is the kind of film, like Anchorman and Old School, that is made for DVD. It is a comedy full of catchy lines and sequences that are sure to be quoted and (gasp!) reenacted for years to come. Having Jack Black as the headliner only increases the film's potential cult status, and Paramount's fine DVD doesn't exactly hurt either.
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