As a plump orphan boy growing up in a Mexican monastery, Nacho (Jack Black) was a great fan of Lucha Libre — the popular Mexican sport of masked wrestling — but because the church elders frowned upon the sport, Nacho had to suppress his dream of one day becoming a luchador. Now a portly adult, Nacho remains on at the monastery as a cook.
Nacho lives a modest life, but he’s unhappy with the poor quality of ingredients he’s forced to use to make the daily meals, which consist of beans and donated day-old chips. One day while getting groceries in town, he finds out he can earn money to buy better food for the ophans if he enters a wrestling match. That’s when the disgruntled chef sheds his friar attire to don the light blue and red mask and tights of “Nacho Libre,” the luchador!
But Nacho, who finds an unlikely tag team partner in an emaciated street urchin named Esqueleto (Hector Jiminez), must keep his moonlighting a secret or risk expulsion from the monastery, which would separate him from the orphans he cares for as well as from Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera), a beautiful young nun Nacho seeks to impress.
The movie is filled with Black’s over-the-top physical comedy, which is enhanced here by the actor’s hilarious put-on Mexican-accented English. Black shows no embarrassment even when performing the most ludicrous scenes whether it’s squeezing into a pair of children’s size sweat pants to wrestle or clenching his buttocks in white dress pants to entice the nun he’s enamored with. The film even finds a way for Black to include his signature improvised tunes, like when he’s forced to fake his way through a song after sneaking into a party with the hired band.
NACHO LIBRE is anything but a generic comedy. Napoleon Dynamite mastermind Jared Hess — who wrote (along with Jerusha Hess and Mike White) and directed the film — loves to accentuate the awkwardness of his characters, which makes this cast of quirky misfits somehow endearing. If you can embrace the intermittent fart humor, grotesque hygiene, and uncomfortable silences, then Hess’s new effort will consistently bring the laughs. And just like with Napoleon Dynamite, you’ll be cheering for the underdogs.