Jack Black in Nacho Libre

I would see Jack Black in any movie. He could do a film about the U.S. Olympic curling team's dramatic play for the bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Games and I'd still be riveted. Thankfully, he is a kind man -- and rather than take on the role of a Dockers-wearing curling "athlete," he usually selects much more interesting projects. Case in point: his turn as a Mexican friar turned luchador (that's a wrestler for all you gringos out there) in 'Nacho Libre,' the latest flick from 'Napoleon Dynamite' writer-director Jared Hess.

Black's Nacho toils away in the kitchen of a dilapidated monastery, churning out meal after unsatisfying meal for all the orphans who reside there -- all the while dreaming of becoming a famous luchador. Then one fateful day, the head monk declares that Nacho's food has been giving him "the diarrheas" since Christmas, thus embarrassing Nacho in front of his smokin' hot crush, Sister Encarnación. (Ana de la Reguera). Convinced that he's Chef Emeril but without fresh ingredients, Nacho sets out to win the girl and put together some scratch for groceries by squeezing his shapely Humpty Dumpty figure into red stretchy pants, recruiting scrawny wrestling partner Esqueleto (Héctor Jimenez) and signing up for some Lucha Libre bouts.

Nacho Libre

This set-up just oozes comic potential -- and it delivers. But if you're expecting the comedy to come by the same zany route as it did in 'Napoleon,' don't be too disappointed. Where 'Dynamite' employed a uniquely bizarre brand of comedy, 'Nacho' often resorts to fart jokes (Nacho's leap in the rings are accompanied by his own gaseous soundtrack) and sight gags (Esqueleto brandishing corn on the cob as a weapon) for its laughs. But the brilliance of 'Nacho' is that it is expertly cast. Esqueleto's stiff (and spooky) smile, scrawny frame and "I believe in science" credo are the perfect compliment to Nacho's faux Mexican accent, Taco Bell gordita body and faith in God. Anything and everything these two cats do is utterly hilarious, from tag-team wrestling dwarves to staging a fight to impress Encarnación. But the true gems are those little intagibles unique to Jack Black -- screaming his own war cry 'Naaaaachoooo!' at the top of his lungs, the "I have to go No. 2" face he makes while revving his motorcycle engine, the simple comic beauty of the way he says "stretchy pants." Would the movie have been as good without Black in the leading role? I seriously doubt it -- and I'm sure glad I'll never find out.

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Tags: Nacho Libre, Jack Black, Jared Hess, Napoleon Dynamite, summer movies
categories Features, Cinematical