Nacho Libre

Nacho Libre is one of those movies like Napoleon Dynamite.  People will either love it or hate it, with very few in the middle ground.  One of the reasons for this is that the creators of Napoleon Dynamite, writer/director Jared Hess and co-writer Jerusha Hess are the brains behind this movie.  Along for the ride is co-writer Mike White (School of Rock, The Good Girl), which also explains the presence of actor Jack Black.  White and Black have their own production company, and White is the screenwriter behind many of Black's memorable comedic roles, and knows how to play to Black's strength.

It is Black (King Kong, Shark Tale) that ultimately keeps Nacho Libre from being completely worthless.  The Hess' coin another tale about strange outsiders, this time in the world of Mexican wrestling.  Nacho is a humble monk who works at an orphanage, cooking for the children.  The other monks look down on him, and in his free time, Nacho dreams about being a successful luchador.  A poster for a local contest that includes a small purse for the winner inspires him to wrestle for real - he can cook good, healthy meals for the children with his winnings.

Together with Pedro, er, Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), a skinny thief, the two take to the ring - to constant humiliation.  That's basically it.  There is Nacho's schoolboy crush on Sister Encarnation (Ana de la Reguera, Ladies' Night, A Beautiful Secret), the gorgeous new nun at the church.  The rest of Nacho Libre is a showcase for Black to do his humor.  So one's tolerance for Black will help determine one's tolerance for the film.  His fake Mexican accent and constant eyebrow twitching get a bit tired after a while, but his dogged determination in trying to do the right thing, even after so many failures, is a bit amusing.  It makes his character likable, which means the viewers will root for him as he does all sorts of strange things.

The script feels like an extended sketch, with each interlude a small five-minute piece.  There are many attempts at jokes, and only a few of them work, which means there are long stretches of weirdness intercut with some funny stuff.  One particularly nice touch was the lack of use of Caucasian actors.  Jimenez and de la Reguera are Mexican actors, not American ones.  Their accents are real, and it lends an authentic touch usually missing from generic comedies.  The best thing about Nacho Libre is not the acting, or the story, or Black, but the ridiculously amusing song that plays over the opening credits and at times throughout the movie.  And it's not that great.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated PG-13 for rough action and crude humor including dialogue.

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