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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

10 years of Flick Filosopher: in which my expectations are thwarted

For those of you who have doubted that I am ever able to overcome the expectations with which I go into a movie, herewith my review of Nacho Libre:

I should have had more faith. I was expecting Nacho Libre, Jared Hess’s follow-up flick to his sweet Napoleon Dynamite, to be, well, dumb. Mostly because I mostly can’t stand Jack Black — his intriguingly weaselly performance in King Kong aside — who has made an unfortunate career in the humiliation-and-embarrassment genre (Shallow Hal, Envy). But also because the art of the cinematic farce is all but lost these days in Hollywood: what was once farce has turned into an orgy of, well, humiliation and embarrassment with a goopy, creamy filling of sappy sentiment in just about every movie the studios attempt to pass off as absurd comedy. And Hollywood has an excellent track record of late of plucking indie directors from the triumph of festival success and forcing them into the same narrow, confining pseudoartistic boxes their indie films were reactions against.

But, wonder of wonders and sing hallelujah! Nacho Libre — while no Napoleon Dynamite — manages to maintain a steady and fully absurd level of absurdity, with nary an ounce of sappy sentiment to be found, for all that the story is, ultimately, about feeding poor orphans.

(And the rest of it…)

review of Nacho Libre, posted 06.18.06

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