Nacho Libre bounds onto the screen with the enthusiasm and good nature of a Labrador puppy. And, like a puppy, its coordination isn’t exactly spot-on. Sometimes everything’s working together, sometimes it’s all over the place, but however it moves, it’s still very hard to dislike it.
Jack Black plays Nacho, an orphan who grew up at a backwater Mexican monastery and who, 20 years on, is still there, cooking terrible food and offering terrible spiritual advice to a new generation of orphans and locals. Nacho’s food is bad though for one reason: there is no money to buy good ingredients. Then Nacho discovers that he could earn money as a wrestler. At the same time, he’d be fulfilling a lifelong ambition (detailed in the amusing credits sequence) but wrestling is expressly forbidden by the church elders. Undeterred, Nacho makes himself a mask and fights – really, really badly – for the good of his charges and, hopefully, to get into the, er, habit of the lovely Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera).
Nacho Libre is directed by Jared Hess, who made Napoleon Dynamite. It’s co-written by Mike White, who wrote School of Rock. If you enjoyed either / both of those, then Nacho Libre will be right up your street. If neither of those raised a smile, then it’s unlikely – as in euphemism for stone-cold guarantee – that you’ll find anything remotely amusing in this broad farce. Jack Black is also something of an acquired taste, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else leaping into this lycra-clad disaster of a character with such enthusiasm. His complete lack of shame adds considerably to the pleasures this daft movie provides – even as his accent wanders from Mexico to the hills of Tuscany.
Whether Nacho Libre will have the long-lasting appeal of Napoleon Dynamite is something only time will tell. However, it’s relatively easy to see this being a bit of a post-pub classic with the dialogue – and the outrageous Mexican accents – being rehashed for the foreseeable future. Undemanding fun for those who like their comedy cult-flavoured.