I have a dirty little secret. It really isn’t something that I want to admit to but I feel that I must. I LOVE Jack Black. Okay, I know it is seems strange. After all, I’m a straight-laced woman over 55. Still, the fact remains that I LOVE Jack Black. Not all of his movies, of course, are in my film library. Like every other actors in the world, he has also had his share of flops and fizzles. However, I admit to putting a handful of his films in the very back of my video cabinet. All kidding aside, Black has the capability to bring a lot of wonderful qualities across on the big screen; not the least of which is a wonderful sense of self-deprecation. He has no problem laughing at himself and I find that very endearing. With all of that said, I also have to admit that I’m not a big fan of his latest film “Nacho Libre.”
Black plays a monastery cook who secretly longs for the rich, famous, and wealthy life of a pro-wrestler. Ignacio (Black) is tired of being the one that has to do all of the dirty work for his other “so called” brothers of the cloth. However, he is dedicated heart and soul to the poor orphans with which he lives. He longs to be able to provide them with fresh, nutritious food instead of the stale day-old nacho chips that he must figure out 1001 ways to prepare. When a new teacher comes to the monastery, Sister Encarnacion (played by Ana De La Regera), Ignacio becomes even more committed to changing his life. He joins forces with the homeless Esquelto (played by Hector Jimenez) to form a wrestling tag-team to enter a local amateur wrestling competition. They of course lose the match. However, the crowd so enjoys their hilarious antics that the pair is offered a weekly match. Try as they might, the duo loses at every turn which prevents them from progressing in the wrestling profession. They learn, however, that an open match is coming up that will allow the winner to compete with the wrestling champion Ramses. Black wants that opportunity more than anything and concocts a plan to win the match. To find out what happens from there, you’ll have to rent the movie. After all, I don’t want to give away the entire plot.
Black definitely has his moments in this film. He is endearing in his love for the orphans and his crush on the unattainable Sister Encarnacion. Unfortunately, for the most part, it seems that Black has to try too hard to make Ignacio a worth while character. Some of his antics to that end just feel forced and, therefore, fall flat.
Ana De La Regera as the Sister of Ignacio’s dreams is sweet, charming, and innocent; all the right things for this particular role. She doesn’t have a lot of screen time but she makes the most of the time that she does have.
Hector Jimenez also had some funny moments in the film, but like Black felt the need to try too hard. It left his character soulless. I don’t think the audience really cared what or if anything happened to him. And I’m not convinced that he was the proper foil to Black’s Ignacio.
Filmmaker Jared Hess has a knack for doing this type of “lovable loser” film. He has established his directing reputation in that genre. But this particular film just doesn’t quite live up to some of his previous work. Co-written with his wife, Jerusha, and noted screenwriter Mike White, the screenplay held a lot of promise but also just couldn’t quite deliver.
“Nacho Libre” is stocked with a cast of real-life wrestlers, which definitely brought some authenticity to the scenes in the ring. It is actually in the ring scenes that Black’s comedic genius excelled. His over the top physical humor blended well with the similarly over the top style of professional wrestling as a whole.
As much as I am loathe to do it to my buddy Jack, I have to give this movie only one star out of five and that is only for a few brief minutes of Black’s amazing comical timing and charm.
Nacho Libre is a Paramount Picture in conjunction with Nickelodeon Movies and Black & White Productions. Jack Black and Michael White produce it. At 92 minutes in length, the movie carries a PG rating.