Review - Dos Peliculas Muy Malo ("Casa De Mi Padre," "Nacho Libre")
Give Will Farrell the brass cahones to come up with this unusual idea: a "Telenovella" soap opera spoken in Spanish with English subtitles and starring himself as the son of a Mexican land owner? Must've sounded good on paper, especially for a 10-min SNL skit (where it belonged). But at 1hr and 24min, it stretched its limits WAY too far.
Directed by Matt Piedmont and written by Andrew Steele, it looks like they attempted to capitalize on the success of the Tarantino/Rodriguez "Troublemaker" studios movies like "Planet Terror" & "Death Proof" of snarking the movie with grainy film, chopped edits, missed continuity, awful sets, but do it BADLY and therefore (in their eyes) make it funny.
Unfortunately, it didn't work.
Leave that sort of stuff for the Wayans or Zucker Brothers who KNOW how to make "bad" funny. What you got here is a badly directed and jumbled mess of a story that pits dim-bulb Armando Alvarez (Farrell--speaking Spanish fairy well) against his drug-running brother Raul (Diego Luna.) Their father (Pedro Armendáriz, Jr, who died just last year) loves his son Raul over Armando probably because of Raul's new hotter-than-hot fiancee Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). But her evil uncle, the drug lord king pin known as Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), has plans to take over the Alvarez land by wiping out Raul and his entire family...but not until Armando falls madly in love with Sonia and then takes charge!
And there's this wise white lion (Aslan?) thingy (that looks like a really bad Muppet) that spouts sage advice from treetops and mountains to Armando when he needs it. With a truly ridiculous shootout at the end that is reminiscent of Pacino's "Scarface," I couldn't wait for this movie to end. I think part of the problem might have been tying the acting (and verbal) hands of Farrell, by which he is a true comedy master. Held to a Spanish-only script without letting him loose and ad-lib was a huge mistake! He came across as stiff and hesitant on screen, looking like he was trying to remember his lines correctly in Spanish.
Which brings me to my question: did director Piedmont and writer Steele purposely TRY to film a BAD movie for the intention of saying "See? This is the joke!" Like the Benny Hill skits that did the same, with much funnier results. I tried to "get" what they were doing with the fake painted backgrounds, the stuffed horses, SNL's Molly Shannon's cameo, and other dumb "mistakes", but it just didn't work for me. It looked amateurish and lacked any real humor at all.
Consider this: Matt Piedmont was a prior SNL writer and had only directed a web series. Likewise, writer Andrew Steele had written for SNL, the internet's "Funny or Die" web series, and 2000's awful "The Ladies Man." Not exactly experienced filmmakers with major motion pictures credits under their belts and this picture shows their limitations when it comes to stringing along a funny short skit to a lengthy movie. Sorry guys... maybe next time.
NACHO LIBRE (2006)
Written and directed by Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite,") and based on a true story (believe it or not!) of a real-life Mexican Catholic priest who masqueraded for 23-years as a masked wrestler "Lucha Libra" in order to support the orphanage he directed.
In this comedy version, we have roly-poly Jack Black as Ignacio, a lowly cook for a children's orphanage and monastery somewhere in old Mexico. Speaking in broken English, Ignacio (an orphan himself) longs to give the children better food, especially after his precious bag of expensive tortilla chips are stolen! He soon teams up with a known tortilla-chip thief known as Steven and together they devise a plan to dress up as masked "luchadors" (which is forbidden by the monastery) and win money to feed the children better food. Together they become the tag-team of Nacho and Esqueleto and start wrestling exploits... badly.
While this is going on, a pretty new tutor arrives at the orphanage, a Sister Encarnación (Ana De La Reguera) and Ignacio is instantly smitten with her. Meanwhile, the training goes on with Ignacio and Steve by day and wrestling by night, until Ignacio's secret is revealed when his robe catches fire during a prayer, exposing his wrestling costume. He admits that he is Nacho, but intends to fight at the all-important "Battle-Jam", a battle royale between eight other top wrestlers and for a huge cash prize which he will use to make life better for the orphans.
Yes, it's "Rocky", Mexican-style! Funnier than "Casa De Mi Padre," although not by much due to a similar problem... holding back the acting chops of its main star, Jack Black. His manic personality is what audiences love and want to see ("School of Rock," "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny") and here he's limited and held back due to his character. Still, I'd rather watch THIS movie again rather the other!
Available on Netflix or Blockbuster.com