CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Comedy, Family
  • 2006
  • 92 mins

Nacho Libre

Nacho Libre

Synopsis

A lowly Mexican friar looks to turns his dreams of wrestling success into a reality. Comedy starring Jack Black, co-written and directed by Jared Hess

About

"Ooh, pro wrestling from Mexico. You know, down there, it's a real sport!" So observed the great sage Homer Simpson. And in a sense, the great donut devourer is right. Not that lucha libre is a truly competitive activity, but it's governed by strict laws and traditions. Indeed, Mexican wrestling has just enough respectability to make it a dodgy subject for a broad American comedy movie.

Hopefully the likes of El Dandy, Super Crazy and Lizmark Jnr (great luchadores to a man) will find plenty to like about Nacho Libre. For one thing, the film stars a number of great Mexican wrestlers such as the mighty Silver King. For another, Jared Hess's picture respects not only lucha libre law but also celebrates the distinct style of acrobatic wrestling loved by Mexicans. And best of all, while the comedy is rarely what you'd call subtle, most of the laughs come at the expense of a gringo, the hugely gifted, wonderfully ridiculous Jack Black.

The Tenacious D frontman is Ignacio (or Nacho to his friends), a fat friar who longs for the glory reserved for Mexico's luchadores. Teaming up with the spindly Esqueleto (Jiménez), the tubby one tries to live his dream only to discover that he lacks the skills to win in the ring. Nacho also has to wrestle his conscience, for while on the one hand his hobby is outlawed by his faith, he believes sporting success would help him feed the orphans he looks after and improve his chances of seducing the comely Sister Encarnación (de la Reguera).

It's a slight plot but it's the springboard for huge laughs. As he proved with his previous picture Napoleon Dynamite, director Jared Hess - who co-wrote the film with his wife Jerusha and School Of Rock writer Mike White - has a rare ability to mock his hero while increasing the audience's desire to root for him. He's also very good at taking a stereotype - the school nerd in Napoleon, US attitudes towards Mexico in Nacho Libre - and ringing new laughs from it as much by laughing at moveigoers' expectations as from ridiculing the subject. And when it comes to comedic set pieces, Ignacio's days in 'the wilderness' and his in-ring activities are on a par with Napoleon doing his thing to Jamiroquai.

Even more impressive is Black's tour de force as the friar with an acute wrestling fixation. A shaggy perm, a farcical Mexican accent, an ill-fitting pair of tights - these are the unlikely elements that power arguably Black's best performance to date. Indeed, Jack the lad works such wonders with Nacho it's tempting to draw a comparison between his turn and Peter Sellers' sterling work as Inspector Clouseau. For just as the infamous French detective could have been offensive or unfunny in lesser hands, so Black seemed on a hiding to nothing playing an overweight Latino. But rather than preparing to feel offended, get ready to root for the round guy.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Dominick Kurek, Troy Gentile, Carla Jimenez, Jack Black, Moises De La Reguera, Peter Stormare, Lauro Chartrand, Héctor Jiménez
  • Director: Jared Hess
  • Screen Writer: Jerusha Hess, Jared Hess, Mike White
  • Producer: Jack Black, Mike White, David Klawans, Julia Pistor
  • Photographer: Xavier Pérez Grobet
  • Composer: Danny Elfman

In a nutshell

Jack Black and Jared Hess in the days when they were the reigning champions of American movie comedy.

by Richard Luck

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Second Coming

    Debbie Tucker Green's drama follows a tight family unit navigating their way through family life as it breaks down in the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy

  • Film4 Million Dollar Arm

    Million Dollar Arm

    Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has the idea to launch a reality TV contest in India that offers contestants the chance to land a Major League Baseball contract

  • Film4 Half Nelson

    Half Nelson on Film4

    Ryan Gosling stars as an inner-city high school teacher struggling with a drug problem in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Oscar-nominated drama on Film4

  • Film4 Rust and Bone

    Rust And Bone on Film4

    Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Jacques Audiard's romantic drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 On-Air Refresh 2014: Daniel Chase

    This Tuesday, Film4 channel is unveiling a new set of cinematic on-air idents, and here on the blog we¿re taking you behind the scenes for a series of interviews with the creative team who¿ve worked o

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Fred Dekker on Night Of The Creeps

    As Film4 screens 80s comedy-horror Night Of The Creeps for the first time, writer/director Fred Dekker looks back on his filmmaking debut... Night Of The Creeps was written in three weeks. At least,

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share