Two very different forms of comedy are in this week’s DVD column.
From the 1920s through the 1960s, many comedians working in films
routinely developed personas they carried from role to role and character to
character. In the last 25 years, though, we’ve seen comics such as Steve
Martin, Jim Carrey and Robin Williams who might have signature bits of
business they use in their films, but not a re-occurring character.
Adam Sadler has reversed this with his aggressive man-boy character and
Jack Black is another who has established a character he brings from film to
Black has risen from being a supporting actor in films such “High
Fidelity” and “Orange County,” to a star in films such as “School of Rock”
and “Shallow Hal.” His roles tend toward aggressive blowhards with a manic
“Nacho Libre” marks a toning-down of his comic persona. Perhaps it was
the influence of director Jared Hess – known for his break-out film
“Napoleon Dynamite” – but Black’s character of Ignacio is one of his most
Ignacio is a cook at a Mexican monastery who is obsessed with being a
masked wrestler. He is torn between his love of the children at the
orphanage the monastery operates and his need to fulfill his destiny as the
best wrestler in Mexico.
Complicating matters is the arrival of Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la
Reguera) to the orphanage who becomes both an inspiration and an forbidden
love for Ignacio.
Ignacio’s somewhat unwilling tag team member is Esqueleto, a tall thin
young street person who doesn’t share Ignacio’s vision, but does like the
money even losing brings him.
Ignacio wants to earn money to buy the children better food and, despite
his obsession, he is really the first sweet character Black has played.
That’s what makes this film different. Despite the wrestling plot line,
there is actually a gentleness about the story. The result is this film
doesn’t have as many belly laughs as some of Black’s previous films, but it
might stand out a bit more as something decidedly different.
I liked the film a great deal, but then I’m a sucker for anything
dealing with Mexican wrestling.
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Wonder Showzen: Season Two
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped in a disc from this two disc
set of the MTV 2 comedy series and I have to say that I was genuinely
surprised, amused and appalled at what I saw.
Imagine “Sesame Street” on angel dust and you might have a glimmer of
what this show is like. It’s not only a parody of the beloved children’s
show that features puppets involved with drugs and violence, it’s also a
show with a reality edge. There are regular sequences in which kids go out
on the street with un-scripted “man on the street” bits that are totally
My favorite reality sequence, I’m ashamed to admit, had a group of men
as part of a focus group in which they watched a calculatedly offensive
parody of “Hee Haw.” None of the these guys thought the show was in poor
taste. Their humiliation was increased when they were brought back months
later and shown how they were deceived on a national television show.
Some of the sequences are fairly funny and inventive, while others
pretty much horrified me.
This is very dark, cynical stuff and it most definitely not for
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© 2006 by Gordon Michael Dobbs. These words are mine alone.