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Stretchy Pants Save the Day In Very Funny Nacho Libre

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • 2006 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
Stretchy Pants Save the Day In Very Funny <i>Nacho Libre</i>

Release Date:  June 16, 2006
Rating:  PG (some rough action, mild crude humor)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  91 min.
Director:  Jared Hess
Actors:  Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jiménez, Darius Rose, Moses Arias, Troy Gentile

Who knew that a friar, moonlighting as a wrestler in unflattering stretchy pants and a homemade cape, could help save a mostly unfunny summer (save for RV and Over the Hedge) at the movies?

Yeah, I wasn’t buying it either when I first saw the trailer for Nacho Libre. Personally, I’ve always found wrestling, well, rather revolting, and Jack Black a little over the top in past movies. But as Nacho, Black’s comedic timing couldn’t be better, even if the plot is as paper thin as Jared Hess’s Napoleon Dynamite was.

But plot or not, the story’s premise wouldn’t be easy for just any leading man to pull off – and Black (I mean Nacho) steals the show from the first scene with his wacky Spanish accent and knack for physical comedy. As a cook for orphans, Nacho doesn’t have much to work with, aside from stale tortilla chips he uses to garnish every dish. When one of the children asks why he can’t just have a simple salad, Nacho finds himself on a quest for fresher ingredients. But how does a friar in Mexico manage to score some extra pesos for salad greens?

Enter the wrestling portion of the story.

When Nacho spots a successful “lucha libre” Mexican-style wrestler, he realizes that would be a pretty cool way to earn some grocery money and, perhaps, gain a little fame in the process. To help in his efforts, he recruits the rather scrawny Esqueleto (Hector Jiménez), and the connection between this unlikely pair (Nacho works for God, while Esqueleto maintains he only believes in science) makes for some of the movie’s best moments.

The requisite romantic angle can sometimes feel a little forced in most movies, but Nacho’s crush on a beautiful young nun (Ana de la Reguera) is nothing short of endearing. After all, who can refuse Nacho’s charming late-night invitation to eat toast? But even more sweet than their innocent chemistry is the way the young nun tries to encourage Nacho in his faith and to fight for the right reasons – not his own glory.

Of course, Nacho doesn’t immediately accept (or even agree with) her advice and learns this lesson the hard way – even being forced out of the monastery at one point and having to retreat to the wilderness. Ultimately, he wants nothing more than to get noticed for his fighting prowess and snazzy get-up – aside from helping the children, of course. But even in a silly movie like this, a pertinent message comes across loud and clear: Selfish ambition doesn’t often lead to rewarding results.

Although there’s not much more than that to take away thematically (aside from plenty of laughs), “Nacho Libre” is surprisingly clean family entertainment that both kids and adults will enjoy. While the humor is certainly more juvenile than sophisticated in nature, viewers of any age can’t help but root for this unlikely hero, stretchy pants and all.

AUDIENCE:  8 and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Language/Profanity:  Surprisingly, there wasn’t any profanity. But Nacho does have a few flatulent moments, which is where the “mild crude humor” warning comes from.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, unless you count Nacho’s penchant for being shirtless.
  • Violence:  Since there’s a lot of wrestling in the movie, there are many moments in the ring that would be considered violent – but more of the comic than of the mean-spirited variety. Outside of the ring, a man’s eye is jabbed when Esqueleto throws a stick with corn on the cob on one end at him.
  • Religion:  Esqueleto asks Nacho if they should pray before a very important match, a big step since he repeatedly claimed that he didn’t believe in God – “only in science.” Nacho is a monk in training who has kept his vow of celibacy.