Ignacio (Jack Black), or Nacho to his friends, works as a cook in the Mexican monastery where he grew up. The monastery is home to a host of orphans whom Nacho cares for deeply, but there is not much money to feed them properly. Nacho decides to raise money for the children by moonlighting as a Lucha Libre wrestler with his partner Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez), but since the church forbids Lucha, Nacho must disguise his identity.
In the early years of my childhood, my parents would always watch movies with me on the weekends and we would make it a big family movie night, watching whatever film looked funny or interesting to us. We watched a ton of movies that I absolutely adored, but we did occasionally watched a film that we all didn’t like. But in 2006, all three of us rented Nacho Libre at our local Blockbuster video store on a weekend, brought it home, and watched it.
Little did I know at the age of six years old that Nacho Libre would turn out to be one of my all-time favorite movies from there on out. And also one of my most rewatched. After our initial viewing, my family and I rewatched the film at least once every year and surprisingly, we never got tired of it. Even to this day, it still holds up amazingly. As a matter of fact, after watching it again today, I think I enjoy it even more these days. I’m able to understand and appreciate a lot of the jokes that, back when I was a kid, I simply didn’t get.
Right from the opening scene down to the final one, Jared Hess’ Nacho Libre is a slapstick comedy of epic proportions that always feels so goofy and it’s such a blessing. This was back when Jack Black was still in his prime, making plenty of films that were able to make you split your sides with laughter.
Speaking of Black, let’s get the elephant out of the room right now – he is absolutely hilarious in this film and commits everything to this character. As Ignacio, Black exudes tons of charisma, likability, and wit in every scene. He is easily the film’s funniest character, but the film doesn’t only make you laugh at him and his goofy mishaps, it eventually gives you a genuine reason to care for his journey.
He wants to become the best wrestler around because if he does so, he will get plenty of money for the whole orphanage and he thinks it will impress Sister Encarnació, a nun whom Ignacio has a massive crush on. But Ignacio knows that the mission is going to be complicated to do just by himself, so he enlists the help of another wrestler known as Esqueleto.
You genuinely want Ignacio and Esqueleto to succeed because, unlike every other wrestler in the area, the two of them don’t want to win because they want to be hotshots – they want to win mainly because they want to give the kids in the orphanage a hero to look up to. A hero from their own area. And, they want to use the money to support and feed the kids too.
Of course, being a Jack Black movie, nothing is ever simple for his character and he must work his way to get where he wants to be. Nacho Libre is an extremely goofy movie that has an endless amount of hilarity, but it also has a shocking amount of heart, and the tone never feels jarring or out of place. It’s a tight, compact, and always moving comedy, and in my personal opinion, one of the best of all-time.
Fast-paced, outstandingly hilarious, and full of heart, Nacho Libre is a masterful comedy about a wrestler with big dreams and an even bigger heart.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: PG for some rough action, and crude humor including dialogue
Directed by: Jared Hess
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 16, 2006
Running Time: 92 minutes