Nacho Libre

My first brush with Nacho Libre was a larger-than-life placard at the Scottsdale 101 Harkins during the Phoenix Film Festival in March. Jack Black in a cape and tights and the words Nacho Libre. This had to be good, and in fact it turns out it's the funniest and most quotable film in my recent memory.

Ignacio is a friar in a monastary in Oaxaca, Mexico. From a young age, he dreamt of being a Mexican wrestler, a Luchador. Instead, he cooks crappy food for the orphans. Finally, he gets the chance to fulfill his dream.

Jared Hess writes and directs, and infuses his unique style. Like Napolean Dynamite, we have the centered framing (and other anti-cinematic devices) that seems to put us directly in the path of awkward situations with awkward people. It's not written over-the-top, but it's funny beacuase of the goofy characters in goofy situations. Unlike Napolean Dynamite, this film actually has a plot, wherein Nacho has highs and lows, seeking to fulfill his dream and his obligations, and eventually for redemption.

Add to this Jack Black's unique physical flourishes (he's funny 24 hours of the day, reading the newspaper, eating cereal, even while he's sleeping) and an accent that constantly drifts from campy Mexican to other latin languages, and you have some fantastic guilt-free, family-friendly laughs throughout. It's done without a big budget, flashy locations, complicated stunts, or an all-star cast. The end of the movie is uplifting and touching.

This film is everything good and quirky about Napolean Dynamite, with the benefit of a real star and an actual story arc, and it's the funniest film of the year. Go see it!

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