Making the Grades
It's time for Director/Writer Jared Hess to prove he has what it takes to pull off another oddball movie sensation. After the wild popularity of his low budget film, Napoleon Dynamite, Hess is going south of the border to bring audiences a quirky comedy about Mexican wrestling. If he succeeds, he may end up bringing the same recognition to free-style fighting that he did to small town high schools.
Hess and his wife Jerusha have crafted a story about a pudgy monk in a poor Latin American monastery. Without any other skills to his credit, Nacho (Jack Black) is forced to cook for the orphans who live in the church building. But his food is horrible. Knowing he needs better ingredients to work with, Nacho furtively dons a pair of borrowed stretchy pants and ski mask and enters the local wrestling ring to earn some money.
Although the initial success of Nacho and his skinny fighting companion Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez) is questionable, the kitchen worker discovers he has an indisputable passion for life on the mat. With the help of Esqueleto's sewing skills, the aspiring luchadores steal the needed materials, design their own signature costumes and head back to the ropes for more.
However, the priests sternly frown upon Lucha libre (a Mexican form of professional wrestling) so Nacho must maintain his secret identity from everyone in the church including the orphans and the beautiful Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera).
Like Hess's previous film, the humor is unconventional and out of step. At times, the script stutters and almost stalls (like the retrofitted motorcycle Nacho rides around town) becoming merely a showcase for Black's over-the-top antics. Yet between the one-liners and gag-type jokes, the storyline has some redeeming moments.
For younger viewers, the film contains plenty of wrestling violence with characters being hit, kicked, jumped on and conked with chairs. During a street confrontation, a man is pierced in the eye with a cob of corn and another is punched in the nose. Later, a monk's robe starts on fire and he runs from the chapel engulfed in flames. As well, the screenplay uses scatological slang, flatulence and some crude comments and antics for comedy (including one man who is smeared in the face with fresh cow manure). Although much of the action takes place in a monastery, there is often casual treatment of religious themes and an unorthodox portrayal of baptism.
While Nacho's occasional ungodly yearning for worldly applause (and his obsession with body hugging fabrics) may not be in harmony with the tenets of his religious duties, the much maligned kitchen help proves his heart is in the right place when it comes to providing a better life for the orphans in the monastery.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Nacho Libre.
What motivates Nacho to go to the ring? Why does he choose Esqueleto as his partner? What things does he willingly sacrifice for others?
Why does Nacho feel compassion for the orphans? How does he become their hero?
Learn more about luchadores at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucha_libre