Sunday, 5 September 2010

Father of the Bride; Nacho Libre

Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride is a pleasant enough family comedy featuring Steve Martin as a father anxious about his daughter’s imminent marriage. A remake of the 1950 Spencer Tracy original, the comedy comes mainly from slapstick, Martin’s shock at the expense of having a wedding and the wealth of his new in-laws to be, and Martin Short in a scene-stealing role as the wedding planner with a faux European accent that’s so garbled it makes John Cleese’s version of French in the Holy Grail seem like an exercise in restraint.
The film pootles along pleasantly enough, although suffering from the same curse of American films and TV of the time (1991) in that it still seems stuck in the previous decade. Martin is fine but limited in his role meaning that his wry reactions are less acidic than LA Story, he’s cruising when compare to his best work but it’s not as bad as the rut he’s found himself confined to more recently as family comedies somehow dumb down and rely on OTT gags and mugging with less of the warmth and half-decent characterisation on display here.
Still, the film is all safe pastel-shades and upper middle-class wealth that is missing the kind of anarchic spark that fuelled the previous year’s Home Alone (itself a kind of counterpoint to Martin’s earlier Parenthood). Macauley Culkin’s brother Kieran, more recently shining as Scott Pilgrim’s gay roommate, plays a supporting role here as Martin’s young son and turns in a similar cutesy, knowing performance as that of his brother.

Nacho Libre

I found Nacho Libre so desperately unfunny that I had to stop watching. I don’t know if it would have been the first film I’d walked out on had a seen it in the cinema but I was quite happy to switch off during a mid-afternoon weekend TV screening. The joke is that Jack Black is a priest in training at an orphanage in Mexico who is slightly less than serious, he is treated badly by the other priests and so decides to go undercover as a luchador (masked wrestler) - Nacho Libre. He’s also inspired by the introduction of a young, pretty nun to the orphanage, so he sets out to impress her by secretly earning money wrestling to buy better food for the orphans.
Director Jared Hess achieved fame with geek-tastic Napoleon Dynamite, but while the skewed slacker humour still just about clung to a realistic setting, his next feature is larger than life with Black in his more common Tenacious D ego-mode than the comparatively measured performances of the likes of Margot at the Wedding. The problem is, Black only shines in films that are half-decent in the first place, but aside from the setting most of the ideas in Nacho Libre are tired. Maybe it picked up for a giddy climax in the last twenty minutes but I very much doubt it.


Alex said...

Nacho Libre is one of the worst films I have every seen, almost as bad as Sex in the City 2! I'm glad you agree as my friends were hyping it up somewhat for some strange reason :/.

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