"Nacho Libre" features Jack Black hiding behind a large, bad Mexican accent and a perm from hell. He plays Ignacio, nicknamed Nacho, a monk in an orphanage whose job consists of fixing beans for the kids. Beans? Bean jokes? Okay, beans are funny -- if you're 12.
The plot also ascribes powerful sexual feelings as well as political machinations to a Mexican religious order. Given the ugliness of human nature, this is probably true, and at least Nacho's feelings for the lovely Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera) remain unconsummated, even if she agrees to go to his room for . . . toast. Is toast funny? I guess so.
But the wrestling is the real center of the movie. Nacho, with a tag-team partner (Hector Jimenez), secretly signs up for a match to raise money to buy lettuce for salads to relieve the monotony of the beans and perhaps give us sanctuary from all the bean jokes.
The movie then follows the secret career of Nacho Libre the wrestler, juxtaposing it with the banality of the monk Ignacio, who is the butt of all that witty monastery repartee, even as he tries to move in on Sister Encarnacion. Oh, and he drives a power lawn mower.
Black is a curious figure. His appeal is that, given one of the ugliest bodies in America, he has no shame in showing it and no repression in moving it. Much of "Nacho Libre" is indeed about free Nacho, liberated from the confines of the monk's cowl, throwing himself around the ring with total abandon. He just gives it up for the film, and the film subversively encourages us to laugh at the nerdily arrhythmic, fat-butted, waddle-intensive lurch of his moves.
"Nacho Libre" is from Jared Hess, who directed "Napoleon Dynamite." Is it funny? Now and then. Stupid? Very. Racist? Possibly. Ugly? Profoundly. Wild? Undeniably. Singular? Completely.
-- Stephen Hunter
Contains comic violence.