Nacho (Black) is a monastery cook, who spends his day feeding orphans and being overlooked by the monastery. When Sister Encarnación (Reguera) arrive at the monastery, Nacho realises that the only way to win her affection and to save the children, will be by competing as a Luchador wrestler. Written by
if you like weirdly sweet Mexican wrestling comedies this is the film for you
It's good to know that farce is alive and well in the world. Since the mid 90's it feels like film makers have lost their grip on truly great weird comedy. Movies that speak to the few and turn off the rest. It seems that even as the tools to unlock our imaginations get flashier and flashier, and special effect budgets grow and grown, American film grow static and stale. Then when it seems like all hope is lost, a film like NACHO LIBRE comes along.
Somewhere in Mexico, a young priest named Nacho (Jack Black) longs to be recognized. He's tired of serving the same bland food to the young boys in his charge. He's tired of being disrespected by the other priests. He longs to be a luchadore (a Mexican wrestler), and to gain the affections of the stunning Sister Encarnación (Ana del la Regura). Then when all hope is lost he teams up with a new friend named Esquelta, and takes the Mexican wrestling world by storm. Will the orphan boys get better food? Will Nacho win the heart of Sister Encarnación? Will he lose everything he has, on a quest to become a great warrior? Giving this movie its due will provide those answers and more. The movie not perfect. It's a little overlong and some of the jokes fall flat on their face. But there is an earnestness and a sweet gentility in the film that will win you over. You cannot enter this movie with the wrong attitude and if you don't like weird movie its not for you. But if you let it entertain you and if you give into the fact that it really bizarre, it will work. You have to take every scene with grain of salt and logic must be thrown out the window. But if you turn off that part of your brain that strives for everything to be plausible, than this film will entertain.
Then for no apparent reason the movie does something I didn't quite expect, it begins to tackle a serious subject. Behind all the silliness is a story about how legalism traps us in a place of boredom and predictability. Whether it be religious legalism or secular legalism, NACHO LIBRE is about a misfit who succeeds because he goes out on a limb. He doesn't give up his religious fervor when the chips are down, when his atheist friend tells him to give into science and logic, and he doesn't give up on God because men of cloth treat him badly. He stays true to his faith and not his religion. This message is not beaten over the audiences head. This is not a religious picture. But it gives the film a dimension that I didn't expect.
Director Jared Hess, doesn't stray to far from his Napoleon Dynamite roots. But that's okay. It works here and he hits the right comic tones. I can't wait for the DVD because I'm convinced that the film really needs to be viewed a second time. Knowing what to expect allows the audience to settle into Hess skewed comedy. The film is very dry and if you don't know what to expect its easy to dismiss the comedy and think the film is horrible. You have to work at it a little bit and let it sink in. But when you get it you'll love it.
If you're looking for an hour and half of silliness you can't go wrong with NACHO LIBRE. It's cute, sweet, and you get to stare at Jack Black's upper torso for far too long. Trust me if you like weirdly sweet Mexican wrestling comedies this is the film for you.
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