Nacho Libre or, as it is known in some territories, The Free Dorito*, was everything that I expected it to be and more.
It is like Napoleon Dynamite in some aspects, but in many ways it is nothing like Jon Heder’s vehicle for goshness and ambiguous Mormonism. For one thing, Nacho Libre has more of a definite story with scenes that actually relate to each other. Once, when I was at HMV looking through their ridiculously overpriced DVDs, Napoleon Dynamite was playing on their TVs. I had not seen it for several months, and so I thought the disparate scenes being shown were something like a “best of” compilation. I was surprised when I put in my own DVD a few weeks later and that was what the movie was actually like.
But I digress. Nacho Libre is a film that will polarise audiences as Napoleon Dynamite did, and even moreso simply for the inclusion of Jack Black. I love Jack Black, and my New Year 2003 celebration was spent watching Tenacious D perform at the Enmore, so this film was something like Heaven for me. Some of the lines are funny simply because Jack Black is saying them. His control of facial expressions is second to none.
Jack Black plays Ignacio, a friar who works as a chef in a Mexican orphanage. The establishment provides him with no catering budget, and so he prepares each day a terrible glop covered in “Orphan’s chips”: day old corn chips donated by local restaurants.
Ignacio gets the idea to team up with his fierce opponent for the orphan chips, Esquelito, as a luchador tag team so that he can provide the orphans with good food and perhaps even win the admiration of the new Nun at the orphanage, Encarnacione.
This is a loose frame work in which Jack Black can throw beehives at people, toss corn to the ground, and sing at a party. It is probably best described using that catch all term used by young Australians when they’ve no idea what they mean: “random”.
Non sequiturs and the element of surprise are a big part of the experience, as are speeches about hating all of the orphans in the world. The fights themselves are hilarious because it’s practically impossible to make sense of the rules and, frankly, Nacho and Esquelito suck at wrestling.
I think this is one of those instances where a movie poster actually sums up the spirit of the film perfectly, embracing its moral core (which is surprisingly quite strong) and producing something approaching comedic excellence. Unfortunately I can’t find the image I’m speaking of, so I’m just going to illustrate how pretty Encarnacione, Ana de la Reguera, is:
And I never lie.**
There’s a good chance that, if you go to Nacho Libre, you will hate it. I loved it, and it had a conclusion that provided me with a huge smile. When a movie can make me smile – something quite different to laughing – it wins ultra bonus points. Nacho Libre is therefore, in my play book, a total Knock Out.