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One of the great cinematic mysteries is how Jared Hess’s deadpan Napoleon Dynamite—the story of a stringy Idaho mouth-breather with eyes perpetually at half-mast—became a teen anthem of sorts. In Nacho Libre, Hess has a truly dynamic protagonist: Jack Black as a novice Mexican friar turned masked wrestler. Deadpan does wonders for the sometimes wearyingly extroverted Black, especially when it’s broken up by ejaculations of Jack Blackness. The movie is semi-infantile camp but often riotous. Proclaiming his machismo in an accent that slips from the Frito Bandito to Maurice Chevalier to Slobodan Milosevic, Black curls his eyebrows, twitches his manly buttocks, and leaps into the ring with a belly made for bouncing off ropes.

The Road to Guantánamo
Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross. Roadside Attractions. R.

The Great New Wonderful
Directed by Danny Leiner. First Independent Pictures. R.

The Lake House
Directed by Alejandro Agresti. Warner Bros. PG.

Nacho Libre
Directed by Jared Hess. Paramount. PG.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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