Nacho Libre (2006) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Richard Montoya

Director: Jared Hess

NACHO LIBRE isn’t about those delicious nacho tortilla chips but it does have a strong Mexican flavour and they do actually feature in the movie. Filmed on location in Oaxaca, Mexico and set in an impoverished Catholic orphanage, it stars the dynamic and charismatic Jack Black as Brother Ignacio ‘Nacho’.

Life on the poverty line is hard, routine and dull. Brother Nacho is relegated to the kitchen and is the sole chef. Responsible for providing nourishing meals from his meagre budget for the priests and children that live at the orphanage, he serves up daily dishes of frijoles sprinkled with donated tortilla chips. Even these he has to fight for when one night an impoverished vagrant, Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), pilfers the bag of chips left for the orphans outside the back of a restaurant in the local town.

But life suddenly changes for everyone with the arrival of a young, beautiful and compassionate nun, Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera). Frustrated by the poverty in his life and the fact that he can only serve stale food, Nacho gets a brainwave and with Esqueleto as his sidekick they enter a local wrestling match – a wealthy growth industry with prize fighters and hard owners yet supported strongly by the locals. Nacho and Esqueleto get off to a poor start as lucho libre wrestlers but their popularity increases steadily as does their winnings, despite the fact that they lose every match. Still practice makes perfect and as their earnings steadily grow Nacho and Esqueleto reap their rewards. For Nacho it’s being able to enjoy spending his new wealth at the local market buying extra fresh groceries so he can serve up healthy and varied meals for everyone at the orphanage. Nor can he resist the temptation to buy himself some flashy white boots and other clothes.

Having now had a taste of what success can bring, Nacho now wants to win his wrestling bouts and take on the top, vain celebrity wrestlers to earn even more. Not only that, there’s the beautiful Sister Encarnación who’s innocently stirred up some rather ungodly desires within him…

NACHO LIBRE is an untaxing, amusing and extremely watchable comedy which Jack Black dominates with his performance. The wrestling scenes are incredibly funny and skilfully executed. I don’t know whether Jack Black and Hector Jimenez had to learn wrestling for their ring matches but they manage to pull them off cleverly. Directed by Jared Hess (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) the take off of the local wrestling matches (not the popular WWF) along with the antics and posturing that goes on, behind the scenes and in the ring, including the outrageous costumes the wrestlers wear, is very well done.

Hence Nacho finds his freedom and creates a much improved lifestyle for everyone around him in this feel good movie – NACHO LIBRE!

4 out of 6 stars