Nacho Libre Jared Hess

Let’s face it, Napoleon Dynamite was a film you either loved or hated — a lot. The thought of its filmmaker doling out another flick with the same irritating features of his first one looked extremely promising, considering this film is based around another equally as peculiar character. But I’m pleased to say Nacho Libre is anything but irritating. Still retaining that nutty brand of comedy that flaunts over the top accents, guileless dialogue, unexplainable actions, and some of the most original characters imaginable — all within an era that is questionable throughout — Hess, for the most part, still rejects the principles and trappings of the standard comedy structure for something that is nothing short of adorable. And funny too. A full-grown orphan named Ignacio (Jack Black) dreams of becoming a pro wrestler named Nacho Libre in his small town, despite knowing the sport is forbidden by his religion. He works as a hapless cook in an a Mexican monastery, feeding orphans unpleasant food, while fending off a crush for his fellow nun, Sister Encarnaçion (Ana de la Reguera). In a bid to improve life for him and those around him, he recruits a scrawny scamp named Esqueleto (Héctor Jiménez) and the pair begin tag team wrestling for money and glory with foreseeable but agreeable hitches along the way. It’s really that simple, large in part to the screenwriting talent of Mike White (School of Rock, Freaks and Geeks) who helps shape the film into a joke-filled lampoon that is ripe with affection and intelligence. The idiosyncratic comedic stylings of Black (who impresses physically with his hilarious wrestling abilities) are on hand in full to add even yet another layer to this three-way creative partnership. As much a showcase for his talent as School of Rock was, Nacho is his finest character to date, proving he can be inexorably funny without using his Tenacious D act as a crutch. Nacho Libre is unconventional, loopy and accessible — the qualities everything a comedy should strive to be. (Nickelodeon/Paramount)