Jack “School of Rock” Black plays Nacho, an overweight friar working as a chef in a run down Mexican orphanage. Desperate to earn some cash to spice up his kids’ meal times, Nacho dons a fetching leotard/mask combo and takes up the ancient Mexican sport of Lucha Libre (free fighting).
Teamed with his stick-thin mate Esquelito “The Skeleton” (Jimenez), the pair join the local wrestling club and soon gain a cult following as the worst tag-team in luchador history. However, with a $10,000 first prize in the offing at the season finale - a Wrestlemania-style Royal Rumble – Nacho and The Skeleton can’t afford to let their losing streak continue.
Convincing us to spend 90 minutes watching a bare-chested Jack Black strutting around in a pair of stretchy pants would normally require a swift body slam/half-nelson combination.
But, actually, this offbeat comedy from Jared “Napoleon Dynamite” Hess is a surprisingly painless experience. Black is perfectly cast as the friar-turned-fighter who “knows a buttload of crap about the gospel”, and shows some remarkable nimbleness in the often hilarious fight scenes - the pick of which involves a pair of midgets called “Satan’s Cavemen”.
Star Jack Black, director Jared Hess and writer Mike White provide an unusual talk-track that involves them commenting on the movie while eating a Mexican meal! Unsurprisingly, this makes for the occasional moment of inspiration (such as Hess’ discussion about orthodontically challenged actors) but also plenty of long pauses as the three battle with mouthfuls of tasty burritos.
Elsewhere highlights include a brief history of Luchador wrestling, a behind the scenes featurette called “Detras de la Camara” and a strange scene that sees a young Nacho (Troy Gentile) wrestling with a pig. This competent special features package is completed with the featurette “Jack sings!” which does exactly what it says on the tin.
While there is an over-reliance on toilet humour and the romance sub-plot (featuring Penelope Cruz look-alike Ana de la Reguera) occasionally borders on the mawkish, the combination of slapstick humour, quirky direction and eclectic soundtrack elevate “Nacho Libre” above the norm.
Starring: Jack Black, Efren Ramirez, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez
Directed by: Jared Hess
Extras: Director’s commentary, Jack sings!, Nacho Libre comic book creator, Deleted scenes, Photo gallery