Nacho Libre

3 stars


14th August 2006

Here's an easy way to figure out whether you're going to enjoy Nacho Libre: does this picture make you laugh? If yes, then congratulations, you can stop reading here as I'll only be preaching to the converted. If there's no smile upon your face, then reading further isn't going to change your mind. By rights I could stop right here and make this the easiest review I've ever written, but I've got a public service to perform and I'll be damned if lazy journalism is going to stop me. A one-trick pony it may be, but like Dodgeball before it, Nacho Libre makes the most of its low-brow concept and will either have you crying with laughter or wondering exactly why everyone else is in tears.

"Jack Black plays a Mexican wrestler." It might be the easiest pitch Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess will ever make in his life. The tubby funster plays Ignacio, a well-meaning Friar who is in charge of cooking for the orphans at the monastery. With budget cut-backs meaning he's limited to serving brown-coloured snot for dinner, Ignacio dreams of being a high-rolling luchador (the masked wrestlers of Mexico) so he can provide better meals for the children and impress comely new Sister Encarnación (Penelope Cruz-a-like Ana de le Reguera). Teaming up with skinny street hood Esqueleto (a man whose toothy grin would make Janet Street Porter wince) he takes to the ring as Nacho, where he gets his fat ass well and truly kicked round after round after round.

Jack Black is a hard man to get a handle on. Before this movie, I personally found him something of a pill, a man who looked like he was having a little too much fun in himself and loved the sound of his own voice too much. He's obviously a talented dude as those Tenacious D album sales testify, but sometimes his goofball shtick gets a bit tiring - if you've seen him arch his eyebrow and hit the high notes once, you've pretty much seen all he has to offer. However, with an afro and moustache combo and squeezed into those little blue lycra leggings, you can't help but warm to the big galoof just a little; it's a role that suits his physical comedy stylings perfectly. Bonus points too for the Gringo accent - I dare you not to laugh as his disembodied voice reads aloud a love letter, complete with the sign-off of "beeg hug, beeg kees, leetle kees."

Like Hess's previous creation, there's lots of fun to be eked from the lovable loser concept and his small-town mentality; his bony pal is no Pedro, but together Nacho and Esquelito are often reminiscent of Idaho's oddest best friends. Similarly, some gags hit the spot, while others are wide of the mark; the wrestling scenes with the screaming midgets of Satan's Cavemen are an absolute riot, while the pointless inclusion of a clichéd tubby love interest for Nacho's partner doesn't amount to anything more than a fat girl on all fours. Just when you think the concept is wearing somewhat thin, you're hit smack in the face with a great sight gag that the Zuckers would have killed for. Nacho Libre is madder than a hammock full of leprechauns, but you'll certainly require a taste for its particular brand of lunacy.

At the point I can only apologise: this review will have told you nothing you didn't already know. It's not my fault, mind; it's a movie where Jack Black wears an afro and a moustache, squeezes his plus-sized body into a pair of miniscule lycra shorts and gets whaled on by a procession of crazies, and that's pretty much all there is to it. Critics in the States blasted it, but for Hogan's sake, what in crivens did you expect? If the idea of spending time with a sweaty lunatic doesn't appeal to you then that's fine, but dip into Nacho and you just might be surprised at how something so obviously goofy can tickle the funnybone. Like Nacho himself says: "Sometimes, when you are a man, you wear stretchy pants in your room... for fun." Hear hear.

More:  Comedy  Sports
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