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USA 2006
Directed by
Jared Hess
92 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Nacho Libre

Although it doesn’t have the endearingly deadpan goofiness of Hess’s 2004 cult debut Napoleon Dynamite, going instead for slapstick absurdity Nacho Libre offers more chuckles than most comedies.

Jack Black plays Brother Ignacio, a reluctant acolyte at an orphanage in some backwater Mexican village. What he really wants to do is be an all-in wrestler or luchador in a 'sport" that is known to its devotees as lucha libre. One day the beautiful Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera) arrives at the orphanage and the smitten Ignacio is convinced that he will win her love once she sees his skill in the ring. He enlists the help of a skinny street urchin, Esquelto (Hector Jimenez), to help him get into shape. Of course Ignacio is completely deluded.

The fun of Nacho Libre is in the way it piles gag after gag around an activity that in itself is already ridiculous, a strategy which is well-suited to Black’s screen persona much as it was for Jim Carrey in Man On The Moon (1990). Carrey would have been perfect for this role but Black is still well-suited. Hess and his co-writer wife Jerusha Hess called in Mike White, script writer for his friend Black’s best-yet film, School of Rock (2003) traces of which are recognizable (about 30% of the jokes just being about the actor’s weight).

Somewhat surprisingly the film was largely dismissed even downright disparaged in its day by American critics but if you’re in the mood to run with its ludicrous premise (and comedy is very much about timing) you could have quite a good time.

 

 

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