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Nacho Libre

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Some would argue that luchadors (wrestlers) are just as famous as soccer players in Mexico. Their pictures both grace the papers and they are both known for their athletic prowess. The protagonist of writer/director Jared Hess' hilarious sophomore effort following his cult hit Napoleon Dynamite would definitely agree. In the world Nacho inhabits the life of a luchador is the life of a hero.

As a monk Nacho (played brilliantly by Jack Black) is not allowed to wrestle. But he has grander aspirations than cooking up barely indigestible gruel in the church kitchen all day, so when the opportunity arises (he sees a flyer looking for novice luchadors to compete) he cannot pass it by. Besides the fame and power that come with being a luchador, all Nacho really wants to do is help the orphans at his run-down parish. That and impress Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera who has got to be the best looking nun ever seen on screen), the newest addition to the church. He finds a sidekick, the feral yet also insightful Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez) and embarks on fulfilling his life long dream.

Directed by Jared Hess and co-written with his wife Jerusha along with Mike White, Nacho Libre is incredibly funny as well as incredibly off-beat. The writing is unique and quirky and it is delivered in the same deadpan, quizzical manner seen in Napoleon Dynamite. Note: if you did not like that film, you won't like this one either. In terms of direction, the wrestling sequences in Nacho Libre are a highlight. While they don't have the awe-inspiring complexity and creativity of a Jackie Chan movie, they are amazingly choreographed and possess an artistic depth that showcases Hess' direction.

Jiménez is great as Esqueleto, but Black takes it to the next level. It's as if every time he opens his mouth, it elicits a laugh. The lines are not particularly witty but the way in which Black, in his own interpretation of a Mexican accent, grinds them out with his trademark bravado can have you rolling in your seat. He even gets to showcase his musical talents (Black is the lead singer of the band Tenacious D) in not one but two well-placed songs. The other scene stealer in the film is Darius Rose who plays Chancho, a chubby orphan with whom Nacho has a special rapport.

Nacho Libre is wholesome good fun. It is one of the few films that you can go see with your entire family that isn't a children's movie or animated or both; there's no cursing, sex or (real) violence. But there is humor, and lots of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars