Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler is undoubtedly an audacious and funny idea. The potential is ripe, and Black works with director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) and screenwriter Mike White (School of Rock, Freaks and Geeks, The Good Girl) to craft a gentle, feelgood comedy about big guys in masks beating each other up. But while they hit a delicious and touching tone, Nacho Libre doesn’t have enough laughs or good characters to fully succeed.
Nacho is a lifelong member of a rural Mexican monastery, cooking breakfast for the orphans while harbouring dreams of becoming a wrestler. The arrival of a beautiful nun (Ana de la Reguera) prompts him to pursue his goal, partnered with a scrawny street dweller, Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), who has been attacking Nacho and stealing his cooking supplies. In typical but forgivable movie fashion, Nacho and Esqueleto gradually prosper until they have the chance to fight the top wrestler in the city, all in the hope of making some money to give the orphans a better lifestyle.
Surprisingly for a Jack Black vehicle about wrestling, the tone is akin to a Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) movie, showcasing silently bemused characters witnessing the main character’s often-oblivious ambition in an oddly timeless setting. But when the movie sidesteps awkwardly into fart jokes and a horny fat woman doggedly pursuing Esqueleto, consistency is clearly in peril. Unable to devise belly laughs from its character-based wit, the film sadly resorts to over-the-top staples of lesser films. Sadly, this one just isn’t that memorable, despite an adorable ending, a lovely soundtrack, and Black’s typically entertaining work, this time delivered with a hilarious Mexican accent. Nacho Libre passes the time, but it just made me long for a Jack Black/Wes Anderson collaboration.