Nacho Libre (DVD)

The super-sized energy of “School of Rock” star Jack Black and the deadpan geek-chic of “Napoleon Dynamite” director Jared Hess might strike one as an oil-and-water kind of combination. But the two styles mesh surprisingly well in “Nacho Libre”, which may well be the sweetest and silliest movie about masked Mexican wrestlers you’ll see at the cinema this year.


Jack Black, Hector Jimenez, Ana de la Reguera, Peter Stormare

The super-sized energy of “School of Rock” star Jack Black and the deadpan geek-chic of “Napoleon Dynamite” director Jared Hess might strike one as an oil-and-water kind of combination.

But the two styles mesh surprisingly well in “Nacho Libre”, which may well be the sweetest and silliest movie about masked Mexican wrestlers you’ll see at the cinema this year.

It’s Black who makes the main compromises here, lowering the volume on his wildman persona a few decibels to match Hess’s spare, bone-dry approach to filmmaking (he’s a bit like “Royal Tenenbaums” director Wes Anderson, only not nearly as imaginative).

But don’t be misled into thinking Black’s gone all subtle on you. No, his performance is still enjoyably over-the-top, with its swagger and outlandish Mexican accent…but it’s quietly over-the-top, if you know what I mean.

He plays Brother Ignacio, a novice monk who toils away in the kitchen of a run-down Mexico orphanage.

And while he’s supposed to be devoting his life to the Lord, Ignacio has a secret dream – he longs to don the mask and gaudy tights of the luchador (that’s wrestler to you) and win the love of the crowd.

Joining forces with Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), a scrawny beggar with a knack for wrestling, Ignacio takes to the ring and grapples with a strange collection of opponents (including my personal favourites, a pair of short-statured chaps who appear to be part-lion!).

Of course, any money earned by Ignacio – or ‘Nacho’, as he’s known to his growing number of fans – goes towards making the lives of the orphans more bearable. But is his success in the ring going to his head?

“Nacho Libre” has a loopy joy to it that’s kind of infectious, but it’s far from flawless. Its poker-faced approach may well be enough to leave some viewers cold. And even those on its wavelength might tire of its assumption that a comedy can coast by on a funny accent or a heavyset man in a pair of tights.

But Hess’s style is distinctive enough to win Nacho Libre a few fans, although I doubt it’ll catch on as strongly as “Napoleon Dynamite”, which unexpectedly developed a devoted cult following.

And Black works overtime to juice up the whole enchilada, strutting around with a crazy confidence that’s reminiscent of the late, great John Belushi.

Extras include commentary, deleted scenes, numerous featurettes and easter eggs.

Rating :
Reviewer : Guy Davis