I am I am - Bemused
"Nacho Libre" is a strange movie, not in a Terry Gilliam sort of way but in that it's completely different to any which you would automatically associate with its star Jack Black or with writers Mike White and Jared Hess. In fact "Nacho Libre" is such an offbeat comedy that I struggle to see who the target audience is for this amusing but seriously odd comedy about a Mexican monk/ wrestler, which is memorable thanks to the song "I am I am" which sticks with you for far too long. Although Ana de la Reguera as Encarnacion is pretty memorable for being beautiful in a PenÃ©lope Cruz sort of way.
Ignacio (Jack Black - Kingo Kong) a young man who having been raised in an orphanage by monks now works there as a cook, forced to serve the orphans stale food due to financial restrictions. But fuelled by a passion for wrestling and having found the most unlikely of partners, Ignacio enters the ring in a local competition in the hope of winning the big prize. When Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Reguera), joins the monastery he instantly falls for the pretty nun and as well as trying to win her affections he also tries to prove that wrestling isn't a sin by winning the grand prize in a battle-royale tournament so he can pay for a better life for the orphans.
Having watched "Nacho Libre" a few times I am still perplexed as to who they thought the target market was as it is neither hugely funny or in any way outrageous, in fact the comedy in "Nacho Libre" is remarkably tame and more than a little peculiar. The only thing which stops "Nacho Libre" drifting underneath the radar is that it has Jack Black as it's star, and as he is the only real household name who appears it is somewhat a big ask for him to carry such a strange movie on his own. Sadly he doesn't achieve it and "Nacho Libre" ends up being a slightly witty but lack lustre movie which only sticks in your mind because of a memorable soundtrack or should that be for the song "I am I am".
One of the issues with "Nacho Libre" is the character of Ignacio or Nacho as he is also known is not overly likeable, but not in a nasty way. Yes he has a heart of gold but he acts like a child and this makes it incredibly hard to feel anything for the character whether in the ring or out of it. The fact that Ignacio is the central character makes matters worse as it means there is no one else to really champion.
Although Jack Black does a reasonable job in "Nacho Libre" he is seriously lacking support form another recognized name or other strong characters. Black has proved in the past that he is more than capable of playing the leading role but only when he has had decent support and where the movie in question is not bordering on the weird. Here it feels like his character doesn't have enough depth to be the central focus and so everything Black does makes it feel like Ignacio is a supporting character with an actor trying to steal the show. It really is a rather strange character in a strange movie.
Support wise, well there is the delightful Ana de la Reguera as Encarnacion and also Hector Jiminez as Esqueleto, who both do a decent job in their minor roles but not enough to help Black out. What this means is "Nacho Libre" is very much a one man show with Black having to try very hard to make us laugh but often failing in his endeavours.
Even the wrestling matches add little to raise the interests as they are well just wrestling matches. Yes the range of characters which Nacho wrestles is a varied bunch which would probably be more at home in a circus freak show, but it is still not enough to really entertain.
What all this boils down to is that "Nacho Libre" for me is a strange movie, a very strange one which even after reviewing it I am still not entirely sure what they were trying to do. It is neither overly funny or that interesting and suffers because too much was placed on Jack Black's shoulders to make it work. I suppose if you enjoy quirky off beat movies then it may appeal but for those who are contemplating watching this because they enjoy Jack Black then you may well be as disappointed as I am.