Nacho Libre

2006-11-24 17:27

Ignacio, or Nacho for short, (Jack Black) is a priest in a rural Mexican monastery, caring for orphans. He becomes fed up with his humble lot of preparing gruel when beautiful Sister Encarnación (Ana del la Reguera) comes to stay, and decides to enter a local masked wrestling match, inspired by his wrestling hero Ramses. He teams up with the skinny Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), and they make a name for themselves losing fight after fight, while Nacho desperately tries to improve his skills, woo Encarnación, and still attend to his priestly duties.


More than a vehicle for Jack Black's relentless overacting, Nacho Libre is the critical second film from indie director Jared Hess, who created the deadpan comedy masterpiece, Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon Dynamite was a love it or hate it affair, detailing the lives of a couple of nerds in a dead end town, which has since become a cult classic. The two big questions that this movie raises, is will it be live up to Napoleon Dynamite, or will it be entirely its own beast?

The answers to those questions are no, and sort of. Nacho Libre is far less sophisticated than Napoleon Dynamite, and also a lot more over the top, making it far more conventional comedy fare. There are a lot of nods to Dynamite though, in both the comic pairing of Black with his skinny wrestling buddy Steve, and in some brilliantly deadpan pieces of dialogue. Is it a good movie though? Sadly it's no masterpiece, but it is extremely funny, and a damn sight better than most of the year's other comedies.

The story revolves around Nacho, overweight priest in a small monastery/orphanage, and his dreams of wrestling stardom. He convinces Steve (a gangly thief he apprehends stealing the orphan's nacho chips) to train with him, and they enter a local contest together. They are soundly thrashed, but nonetheless paid for their efforts, which spurs the duo onto further fights. The wrestling scenes are brilliantly executed physical comedy, combining the weighty feel of "real" wrestling like WWE, with cartoonish slapstick. The pair also fight a whole host of ludicrously attired opponents including a pair of furry dwarves with fangs.

The script provides a lot of laughs, with some fantastic Jack Black soliloquies delivered with his signature blend of cockiness and idiocy. When Sister Encarnación comments on his expensive clothes, he blithely replies "Thank you, but they are just clothes. Beneath the clothes, you find the man, and beneath the man you find...his nucleus." The show clearly belongs to Black, and his style of comedy is well suited to the mix.

Ultimately Nacho Libre hearkens back to those ludicrous '70s comedies, which were loaded with slapstick, and silly as hell, only it has been made by people raised on the smart post modern sensibilities of The Simpsons and everything that came after it. As silly and crazy as Nacho Libre seems, with the colourful costumes and comic dialogue, it is extremely imaginative and well made, with far more side splitting gags than most other comedies could wish for.

It is also a film that will be enjoyed by young and old alike, as the story is pure feel-good schmaltz, and humour ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, without ever sinking into tedium. So get in the ring with Nacho, you won't regret it.

- Ivan Sadler
A frustrated Mexican priest who takes care of orphans leads a secret double life as a masked wrestler, and uses his winnings to help his young wards.

Toy 2006/09/14 9:03 AM
Jared Hess is brillliant Watched Napoleon Dynamite last night. Saddest comedy I've ever seen! You laugh at the idiocy of redneck America but the scary thing is there is so much everyone can identify with! A definte must see
Flea 2006/09/20 11:21 AM
Hess is a genius indeed I loved Nacho, not quite as much as Napoleon Dynamite, but it was still really great.
Scott 2006/11/01 9:40 AM
Nacho Libre? No thanks! Watched this movie and was less than impressed. I enjoyed some of his previous movies but this was just dumb! I am sorry but I think that this is a self indulgent pile of pants! DEFINATELY spend your bucks on something else...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.