Nacho Libre

 
Directed by: Jared Hess
Written by:Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike White
Starring: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Darius Rose, Moises Arias, Eduardo Gomez
Released: September 14, 2006
Grade: B-

When you look at the people behind Nacho Libre, you should get a fair idea as to what to expect.  It has been written and directed by Jared Hess, the creator of the cult hit Napoleon Dynamite.  It stars Jack Black, the man we remember from School Of Rock and Shallow Hal.  It all adds up to an off-beat comedy that will be loved by some and loathed by others.

Nacho Libre gets its humour by creating a bizarre leading character and putting him in ridiculous scenario.  Ignacio (Black) is a friar who works at a monastery in Mexico.  He is looked down upon by the other monks and has been given the unwanted job of chef.  When you see the depressing dishes that Ignacio serves up, it’s a wonder that he’s kept the position for so long.

Ignacio has a secret however.  He has a love for wrestling.  He covertly watches the fights on television and fantasises that he might be a wrestler some day.  His dreams are about to be realised when he meets a poor young lad named Esqueleto (Jimenez) and they decide to enter a competition as a tag-team.  To disguise his identity, Ignacio wears a mask in the ring and goes by the name of Nacho.

Ignacio and Esqueleto are comprehensively flogged in all their fights but the crowd falls in love with them.  They are the ultimate underdog and they keep coming back week and week for more punishment.  Their appeal with the audience sees their share of the prizemoney increase and this creates opportunities for them both.  Ignacio can buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the orphans at the monastery.  Esqueleto can buy fashionable clothes and a hair brush.

Jack Black does his best to make the material as funny as possible.  It has its moments but the dry, sarcastic humour falls well below the level achieved in Napoleon Dynamite.  For every joke which produces a chuckle, there’s another which falls flat.  It doesn’t have the continual stream of hilarious scenes that you’d expect from a great comedy.