Nacho Libre

Given the director (Napolean Dynamite), the writers (Napolean Dynamite, School of Rock) and the star (Heat Vision and Jack), what could one expect but an innocent (childish almost) romp from this movie about a friar who turns to Mexican wrestling to provide salad for orphans?

As he did in Napolean Dynamite, director Jared Hess creates another world for Nacho Libre — almost a cartoon universe of ridiculous priests, disgusting gruel, skeletal sidekicks, greasy children and a beautiful nun. To paint that picture more clearly, the filmmakers have created a farcical language of Spanish and English spoken in exaggerated accents. Nacho’s lines are deliberate pronouncements (and mispronouncements) that pause for a beat after delivery. At times, it slows the pace, but usually it draws a laugh. The goal being — I suppose — to make sure potential fans of the film have time to absorb each one for future repetition.

There isn’t much in the way of character development or plot (unlikely misfit hatches plot to save other misfits) or even climax (unlikely misfit participates in feat of strength against cruel champion). But there’s something endearing about the unabashed innocence of the movie. It is, at times, puerile but never to the point of relying on its childishness for its comedy. Because it never loses its innocence, it’s easy to get caught up in Nacho’s world and root for him. And though it may lack real belly laughs, the film earns many chuckles for those willing to play along.