Nacho Libre

Husband-and-wife filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess' follow-up to NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (2004) is steeped in the wild, wonderfully weird world of luchadores — masked Mexican wrestlers whose sweaty bouts make WWE matches look positively Faulknerian in their symbolic complexity. Ignacio (Jack Black), who cooks in the Oaxaca monastery where he was raised, wishes...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Husband-and-wife filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess' follow-up to NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (2004) is steeped in the wild, wonderfully weird world of luchadores — masked Mexican wrestlers whose sweaty bouts make WWE matches look positively Faulknerian in their symbolic complexity. Ignacio (Jack Black), who cooks in the Oaxaca monastery where he was raised, wishes he could better the lives of its orphans and earn the respect of others, especially that of the serenely lovely Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera). Inspiration strikes when he sees a flyer for amateur wrestling tryouts: No one mocks or ignores luchadores, and winning tag teams can take home lucrative winnings. Ignacio rechristens himself "Nacho," dons a blue and red mask and matching tights, and finds a partner in scrawny, snaggletoothed and near-feral Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez). They lose dismally, but the crowd gets a kick out of them and that's enough to merit a modest cut of the evening's profits and an invitation to return. Esqueleto can buy some clothing and toothpaste, Ignacio is able to get fresh food for los ninos, and everything would be grand if only Sister Encarnacion didn't think wrestling sinful and wrestlers prideful tools of the devil. Inspired by 1963 Mexican wrestling melodrama EL SENOR TORMENTA, the Hesses and coscripter Mike White — who wrote both Black's SCHOOL OF ROCK and the sublimely disturbing CHUCK & BUCK (1999) — clearly recognize the kitsch absurdity of grown men enacting archetypal battles between good and evil in bizarrely fetishistic costumes. But where NAPOLEON DYNAMITE found a core of incongruous sweetness in the misadventures of a gaggle of funny-looking, cluelessly self-confident goofballs, NACHO LIBRE just sniggers at them. It's a one-gag film that rises or falls on how funny you find the sight of fat, grease-slicked Jack Black crammed into spandex pants and capering like an epileptic lamb. Whether the film was meant to play to the most immature impulses of 7-year-olds or just wound up that way courtesy of Black's enthusiastic wind-breaking, mugging, bean-slop snorting, butt-cheek clenching and nonsequitor snickering in a strangled, weirdly accented voice, it's sheer, unadulterated slob comedy. Rife with faux-hip sight gags, it involves tasteless polyester clothes, tacky south-of-the-border decor and a sex-mad obese lady in a pink dress pursuing Esqueleto via a secret tunnel barely wider than her enormous behind (the setup is too complicated to explain). For sheer entertainment value, it can't hold a candle to the authentic nuttiness of any movie starring legendary luchadores Santo and Blue Demon.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Husband-and-wife filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess' follow-up to NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (2004) is steeped in the wild, wonderfully weird world of luchadores — masked Mexican wrestlers whose sweaty bouts make WWE matches look positively Faulknerian in their symb… (more)

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