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Movie Review

Nacho Libre

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some rough action, and crude humor including dialogue

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 16, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

orphans in the Bible


How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

Answers about religion

Featuring: Jack BlackNacho
Peter StormareEmperor
Ana de la Reguera … Sister Encarnación
Héctor Jiménez … Esqueleto
Darius Rose (Darius A. Rose) … Chancho
Moises Arias … Juan Pablo
Diego Eduardo Gomez … Chuy
Carlos Maycotte … Segundo Nuñez
Richard Montoya … Guillermo
Cesar Gonzalez (Cesar Gonzalez “Silver King”) … Ramses
Rafael Montalvo … Elderly Monk
Julio Sandoval … Snaggle Tooth Monk
See all »
Director: Jared Hess
Producer: Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
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Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Nacho Kung-fu”

With the long-running popularity of “Napoleon Dynamite”, director Jared Hess did not waste time moving into his next project Nacho Libre. Once again, Hess co-wrote the film with his wife, Jerusha, while also teaming up with The School of Rock screenwriter, Mike White. Also joining the ranks of this comedy team from “The School of Rock” is actor Jack Black playing the lead role of Nacho.

Set in modern day Mexico, Nacho (Jack Black) is a friar at a local orphanage who works in the kitchen preparing meals for the children. Frustrated that there is not enough money to buy better food for the kids, Nacho decides to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a luchador (wrestler) and perform professionally with the Lucha libre. With no support from the church for his desires to wrestle and having no success in the ring, Nacho finds himself in his own “wilderness” until he can reconcile his two passions and redeem the problems he set out to solve.

Much like “Napoleon Dynamite”, this film is extraordinarily clean for a mainstream movie. There wasn’t any foul language and no real sexual content. The film is more of a collaborative effort than Hess’s previous film so perhaps that added to a couple rougher moments. One of these moments in particular is when a thug is poked in the eye with a piece of fried corn on the cob. It is set up as a humorous moment, but it is also an unexpected and unnerving incident as well.

There are some similarities between “Nacho Libre” and “Napoleon Dynamite”—trademarks that these films have been made by the same director. One such element is the fact that the main character has a somewhat familiar, yet humorous name, and is a person who does not quite fit in. This time, however, our protagonist is not an all-out nerd, but a prominent “man of God.” Nacho is a man who is committed to God and to helping others but also feels rejected by the more pious religious leaders. In one line, Nacho says, “These people don’t think that I know a butt-load of crap about the Gospel—but I do.” While he may not be as fine-tuned as other friars, the point is made that his heart is in the right place.

Since our main hero is a friar, it is easy to see how the idea of faith and good works could be such a part of the story. And it is. Nacho’s mission is ultimately to do something unselfish and help feed needy orphans. To contrast this, Nacho teams up with a scrawny vagabond, Esqueleto (Hector Jiminez) who claims to be a “man of science.” Throughout most of the story Esqueleto does not have any kind of faith, but Nacho feels there is a problem with that. At one point, Nacho forces him to get baptized. In other moments, Nacho recognizes that the reason they are not more successful in the ring is because they have not prayed.

I would not say there is any kind of conversion that takes place in any of the characters, however, the idea of faith is consistently presented as something positive. Along with this, prayer is also an aspect of the story and has something to do with helping the good guys in the end.

Another aspect that is similar to “Napoleon Dynamite” is the simple, pure love story that threads throughout the entire film. Nacho is obviously in love with Sister Encarnacion (Ana de la Raguera), but because they are both committed to church service, they cannot be any more involved than sitting and eating a piece of toast together. Still, the romance is cute, and is a nice refreshment from all of the trashy ways romantic relationships can be treated in film.

Jack Black and some of the other actors certainly ham up their performances for this film. It seems the over-the-top nature of the movie calls for that, but it is quite different from the subtlety that existed in “Napoleon Dynamite”. With such a big personality as Black, it seems inevitable that the style of humor would change when compared to an unknown (at the time) Jon Heder playing the lead. Black is still very funny doing what he does best, but don’t expect the more laid back, offbeat approach to the material.

The collaboration between Hess and White seems all right, but it also felt a little compromised in its vision. The movie is funny and does have some unique, comically poignant moments. Although they are a little more rounded out than “Napoleon Dynamite,” there is still a lot of entertainment to be found here.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I went to this movie with my husband and was very entertained. If you like the humor of “Napoleon Dynamite” then you would really enjoy “Nacho Libre”. It had an entire cast of quirky characters. I think it had a pretty good message as well. Jack Black’s character followed his dream and when he was wrestled for the wrong reasons he lost all the matches but when he wanted to for the right reasons he won against the toughest of competitors. Two thumbs up.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Amanda, age 29
Positive—I took my youth group to see this film and we all loved it, even my wife loved it. She probably laughed out loud more then anyone else in the movie. If you liked the humor in “Napoleon Dynamite” you will love this movie. If you didn’t really dig that movie I’m not sure if you will find this funny. It’s overall pretty clean, and OK for probably 10 and up. I give it a thumbs up.
My Ratings: Good / 3
Jon, age 27
Positive—I have yet to see “Nacho Libre”, rather, I’m speaking on behalf of my sister. She and her husband spent their Friday night at the movies with Jack Black, er, Nacho Libre. She absolutely loved this movie—said it was hilarious, and she credits that to the filmmakers. Given their unique storytelling and appreciable humor as seen in “Napoleon Dynamite”, she promises this is a great movie. As an added bonus, she says the plot is more coherent than the aforementioned and makes for a heck of an enjoyable time.
My Ratings: Average / 4
Jacob Keenum, age 20
Positive—…a hilarious family film. We all really enjoyed it. There was some concern about the caucasian Jack Black playing a Mexican, but race is down-played in a way that it is not offensive. There may be some concern about his character. He plays a bored and worldly Catholic monk who dreams of being a wrestler and lusts after the new nun at orphanage (nothing explicit, and she always chastely and compassionately rejects his advances). But he undergoes moral development. At first he wants to wrestle for his pride and glory, but the nun eventually tells him that if he fights for a worthy cause, God will bless him. So Nacho prays to wrestle for the children.

There’s also a subplot about Nacho’s friend, who first says he believes in science instead of God (he also says he hates all the orphans in the world). Nacho tries to convert him, baptizes him, and eventually the friend says they should pray before the final fight (and he now likes the orphans). It’s a highly enjoyable movie about wrestling, so there is violence, but it is handled in a funny way. The clergy is portrayed as human, but sympathetic.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Brian, age 18
Positive—…hilarious and quite clean. I remember no swearing, only cartoon violence, and nothing offensive to Christianity even though the movie takes place around a Catholic orphanage. There were several mildly suggestive song lyrics, but that’s about it. Also, a little potty humor. Anyway, it’s a fun film that’s suitable for the family, and a clean rarity.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Christa Rachel, age 50
Positive—“Nacho Libre” was the best laugh I’ve had in a long time. I don’t typically enjoy comedies these days, because of the lack of originality, but this movie is nothing BUT originality. Another contributing factor for enjoyment came in the form of sexual humor (or lack thereof!). I was surprised by how positively it represented the church, prayer, God, and “moral” values. I will be taking my sister to see it as soon as I can. I laughed from beginning to end. Awesome.
My Ratings: Good / 4
David, age 21
Positive—My 4 sons (ages 7, 10, 12 and 14) and I had been waiting to see this movie since we first saw the previews. We’re big fans of “School of Rock”, and this movie was every bit as entertaining and even cleaner and promoted better moral values than the first. While I knew it was possible that this movie would just be goofy humor, we thoroughly enjoyed it and were laughing the whole time! Probably over the heads of very young kids, but otherwise a great family film.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Rachelle Smotherman, age 33
Positive—It is not a Spielberg movie and has nothing to do with the holocaust, therefore don’t expect an academy award nor a positive rating from the so called critics. It is dumb, silly humor. My kids loved it and want to see it again.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
Jaime Morall, age 54
Positive—I laughed until I cried. I think that what most people laugh at has changed. I personally want more innocent humor. It is sick that America won’t laugh unless it is off-color in some way. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you are taking yourself too seriously. The only thing that would keep a Christian from laughing at the old fashioned (Three Stooges, Don Knotts), type of slap stick, would be pride.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2
Annie, age 45
Positive— I felt that this movie was not only thoroughly amusing, but also had a lot of positive morals and promoted Christianity as a good selection of faith. I agree with every positive comment I’ve read so far, in that this movie had a wonderfully quirky sense of humor, understandable and lovable protagonists, and a very appropriately chosen soundtrack. However, I not only disagree with the criticisms of the movie, I am utterly baffled by them.

There is nothing terribly graphic in the movie at all; the only things coming close being Jack Black in sweat pants and a hunk of meat at the butcher’s. Now, I can understand that many of us today are used to seeing meat as being prepackaged in a Styrofoam container with plastic wrap and that some people might consider this to be far too graphic for a PG movie. But let’s think about this. In the time of Jesus, would meat have been sold in Styrofoam and plastic? No. It would have been hung out in a shank in front of the butcher’s stand, exactly as it is shown in this movie. What, if anything, is offensive about that? See all »
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
Walter Relronk Bond, age 21
Positive—AWESOME!!! …This movie was good on a moral level, as well as extremely funny. Jack Black and the rest of the (pretty much no-name) cast were side-splitting hilarious. There were many non-offensive references to GOD, and Jack Black’s character even has concern for his partner’s salvation. The whole family should go see this movie—and that’s hard to say, a rarity for any movie over PG!!
My Ratings: Good / 5
Jeffrey Grainger, age 28
Positive—I have to say that I can’t imagine how anyone (especially parents who hope for better from Hollywood), could give this movie a negative review. …My husband and I, took our two children (ages 8 and 13), to the theater to see “Nacho Libre.” We laughed til we cried! We enjoyed it so much that we bought it the day it was released on DVD. The following Friday we invited all of their friends over for “Nacho Libre” night. We made nachos and enjoyed the movie again. We’ve watched it several times and laughed harder each time! We are very conservative parents, and are very careful with what our children view.

I will admit… some of the wrestling scenes were not my favorite, but the message of the story was more about caring for others needs, and being careful not to let your selfish desires be what drives you. Sometimes you just need be silly, and not take a film so seriously. If this movie doesn’t make you laugh, or at least chuckle a lot, I don’t know what will. It’s one of the cleanest comedies that I’ve seen in a long time (even more than a lot of the animated films that are marketed toward children, but are full of adult humor). “Nacho Libre” was well worth our time.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Michelle R., age 40
Positive—“Nacho Libre” is an excellent movie. It’s funny and morally good. The main character, Nacho, is an unlikely hero and messianic figure. He struggles with a host of cardinal sins—pride, envy, lust, and wrath. Sounds like every person I know. But all of this is done with humor and tact by director Jared Hess. And there’s nothing inappropriate in the movie.

So, who is Nacho? He’s a man who struggles with his faith and wants to understand God’s purpose for him. One of my favorite parts of the movie is Nacho’s attraction to Encarnación. He struggles with his affections for her and desire to serve the Lord. Although there is an attraction, it is harmless and meant to simply symbolize man’s mortal struggle, pitting mortal and spiritual desire against each other. His interactions with Encarnación are innocent and the moments between them strengthen their spiritual purpose to serve others. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Sean, age 50 (USA)
Neutral—This movie did have good morals and and overall good plot. Although it was lacking in character development and just overall story. INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT: There are several references about sex but nothing with great detail. There are several intense wrestling matches. There is also several instances of crude dialogue but nothing major. What you see in the previews is what you get. Almost all of the things that make you laugh in the previews is all that make you laugh in the movie. My suggestion go online watch the preview, and you will get just as much as you would get from the movie.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Cory, age 22
Neutral—This was a truly stupid movie, but it probably will appeal to the target audience of teenagers for that very reason. My 13-year-old really liked it. There are two negative characteristics of the movie related to Christianity. The greater of the two is the concept of nun renouncing her vows to run off with Nacho (although we don’t know that she does that at the end of the movie). A more subliminal message occurs in one of the early songs, “Real Religious Man.” It comes across very clearly as making fun of Christianity as a matter of ignorance or tradition rather than a seriously considered choice. I guess that sort of thing should be expected from producers who aren’t members of the faith. The song would be useful as part of a church skit depicting the difference between people with religion and those who have a relationship with Jesus. Overall, the movie was pretty harmless.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
K Ketcham, age 47
Negative—My 15 year old daughter and I each felt that we should have left early in the movie. The main sources humor is a corpulent Jack Frank wearing blue leotards shown in silhouette or prancing around a wrestling ring in the same outfit. I could not tell if this movie was a parody of old spaghetti westerns, “Napoleon Dynamite”, or sports movies. It failed at all levels. As for a world view, it posits that the end justifies the means, in this case, wrestling to get money to feed orphans and buy a bus. The characters lack any of warm quirkiness of Napoleon. Basically, two hours we will never get back.
My Ratings: Average / 2
Bill Williams, age 58
Negative—I was hoping this would be really entertaining, however, we were severely disappointed. There was no language to speak of, so that part was good. Did not like the passing gas of the actors and the tight fitting clothes the wrestlers wore. There were a couple of sexual innuendos that should have been left out. The humor was really lame. There was at least the triumph of a good versus bad guy. The fact that Nacho wanted better for the orphanage was a real good point. After seeing Jack Black in “School of Rock”, we just expected a better quality film. This was a let down. The acting was very shallow. Oh well, wish we would have chosen something else.
My Ratings: Offensive / 1
Jeff Hunter, age 40
Negative—Absolutely awful! Jack Black must be the most annoying actor on Earth, when he tries to be funny. I was so bored, I walked out halfway. Nothing particularly offensive in the film, though, apart from its full-frontal attack on the intellect.
My Ratings: Average / 1
DA Littlewood, age 59
Negative—“Nacho Libre,” in my opinion, is not a good movie for three main reasons. It is not very funny. It makes fun of people of faith, in this case, Catholics. Finally, it’s a parody of the old-time morally strong, heroic movies where the main charcter goes on a quest to right a wrong or peform some selfless act on behalf of those who can’t do it themselves. I’d like to see more movies like that, not bad parodies of them.

Jack Black can be funny at times, but in this movie, those moments are few and far between. Some of the times, I felt self concious for what little laughing I did as the jokes were so off color. While there isn’t any obvious swearing, nudity or graphic violence in the film, it’s far from clean. There are plenty of sexual innuendos, though most of them are done in a way that is more disturbing than anything else. The “humor” is similar to that of “Napoleon Dynamite” which I didn’t find funny either. In both movies, I spent more time feeling sorry for the pitiful characters than I did laughing. I know that sometimes, humor is based on misfortune. I some movies I have seen, this works (like just about all the Laurel and Hardy movies for example). This time, however, its just too pathetic to laugh at. See all »
My Ratings: Average / 2
John, age 33
Comments from young people
Positive—“Nacho Libre” was probably the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. It is good and clean and I would highly recommend it for someone who likes to laugh a lot (I literally started crying it was so funny).
My Ratings: Good / 5
Kurt, age 15
Positive—I liked this movie, and there were several times when my whole family was laughing out loud. We thought some moments were a bit irreverent, but overall it was very funny and we enjoyed it. We were pleasantly surprised at how funny it was.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Christina, age 16
Positive—This movie was completely hilarious. I laughed nearly the entire time. It was hysterical. Yes, I know it takes place in a Roman Catholic monastery, but I don’t remember any real insult to the Lord. Nacho is supposed to be a priest, but he talks about breaking his vows to get married, and he lies to the people, but in the end the moral to the story is good. It states that most anything can be bad if it is done for selfish reasons.

The only things that sort of bothered me was when he said that in the Bible it says that you should not wrestle your neighbor, but Roman Catholics did believe a lot of things that were not true because they could not read the Bible for themselves or in their own language. The only other thing is when he forcibly baptizes Esquelito, but he just really wanted his friend to go to heaven (however, that wasn’t a very good way of convincing somebody).

In the end Esquelito, who claims to only believe in science, tells Nacho that they should pray. This in a way can portray positive messages because no one in the movie loses their faith, but one person begins to believe that God may exist.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Danny, age 15
Positive—This movie was crazy! I loved “Napoleon Dynamite” and thought this film was going to be just as funny. It wasn’t as funny, but it did have a few funny moments. If you like the comedic humor of “Napoleon Dynamite”, you will love the humor in “Nacho Libre”!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 2
Clint, age 17
Negative—“Nacho Libre” is soooo stupid, it is almost on the same level of stupidity as “Without a Paddle”, however. It was very clean, no profanity, sexual content, or severe violence and gore. I like Jack Black (Nacho), but I was very disappointed in him with this movie. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did. I think I may have laughed like twice during the whole movie. And a little warning if you are a Jew (or a vegetarian), there is a scene where a dead and slaughtered pig is graphically shown; I was sooo grossed out by that. My advice, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY; if I had spent my own money on it, I would have demanded a refund. However, I do give the movie kudos for being VERY clean, it could have easily bumped up to a PG-13 rating. And it did have sort of a Christian theme, kudos for that too. But overall, I considered that one the most wasted hour and forty minutes of my life, time is a gift, if I could go back, I would not have abused that gift by watching this movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2
Becki, age 15
Positive—This movie was really funny. I am a huge Jack Black fan, and he was great (as always) in this movie. “Nacho Libre” promoted great Christian values all throughout the movie, and I am very serious about my excellent rating. I saw it with my three little brothers, ages 7,10,12, and my mom and we all loved it. It is appropriate for everyone, and everyone should see it. Well worth the money.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
Tyler Smotherman, age 14
Positive—This movie was a good clean family movie. Jack Black was also really funny in this movie. This movie was not as good as “School of Rock”, but it was still really good. I recommend this movie to people of all ages.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Warren, age 14
Positive—I walked into the theatre with some doubts, and came out nearly dying, laughing. Jack Black does a good job playing a Mexican guy. Jared Hess kept that funny, goofy, kinda weird thing from “Napoleon Dynamite”. We saw this as a family, and all of us loved it. No obscene language, only a little innocent violence, nothing offensive to the Christian faith, overall a very good movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Madeline W., age 13
Positive—I loved this movie! It was sooo funny! It kept me laughing almost the whole time! I don’t think it was as good as “Napoleon Dynamite”, but it was still very good! I would definitely recommend it to people who want to se a good “make you laugh” movie. I thought it was a very funny family movie…
My Ratings: Good / 4
Brooke, age 13
Positive—If you are a fan of “Napoleon Dynamite” and/or Jared Hess, you’ll love this movie! It has some crude things they do, but apart from that (and the fact that they’re wrestlers that are mildly violent) it is a great summer hit that you’ll want to see again and again! …“Nacho Libre” starts out a little slow (mainly introducing characters and main plots), although since most movies start out this way; it’s okay, in my opinion. This is a great movie for preteens and up! Very Clean, Very Funny, Nicely made, and great story; WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR! I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Robo, age 14
Positive—This movie was definitely made from the makers of “Napoleon Dynamite”!!! It was hilarious and had pretty much no plot at all. It was a really fun movie. Don’t get me wrong, but it definitely made fun of Catholics. It had a few messed up comments like when Nacho said, “Sometimes when you are a man, you wear stretchy pants.” It was funny, but rude and vulgar. God would probably not let half of the stuff in this movie to be viewed in Heaven, especially the rude comments. Overall, it was an okay movie, but I would not reccomend it for young children.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Luke, age 13
Neutral—…there is absolutaly nothing bad or offensive in it, but the thing I don’t like about it is that it is just boring. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. I went to it with four other people, and they said the same thing. The reason I went and saw it is because I liked “Napolean Dynamite,” but this movie is NOTHING like that. It is extremely boring.
My Ratings: Good / 2
M, age 11
Positive—Although this movie was not as good as “Napoleon Dynamite,” it’s still a very funny movie. My sister and I want to get it when it comes on DVD… The only thing I found offensive was when Nacho said, “…buttload of cr*p” about the Gospel. Other that that this is a must-see. Nachooooooooo!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Christian Allbee, age 12
Positive—My dad and I both went to see this movie. We literally laughed our heads off in some scenes. I would recommend this to anyone who likes pointless comedies. Kids 9+ should watch this film because there is extremely mild profanity and it’s funny!!
My Ratings: Good / 4
Gabe, age 11
Negative—I watched this movie with my family, and my mother’s words seemed to sum it up for me: 'Is it over yet?' Approximately every 10 or 15 minutes there would be a cute scene or joke, yet the rest of the time it was silly and pointless. I appreciate having a movie that is nearly devoid of blush-worthy moments, but I found the lack of accuracy difficult to swallow. I understand that certain elements were added for the comic effect, so for the sake of the comedy I will try to ignore it. However, the inaccuracies were so overblown that it often seemed ludicrous. Also there was the matter of sexual undertones. The passing gas joke, and the underlying joke of having a monk/nun into your room were just too juvenile and worthless. I also found the violence terribly disgusting. At one point a wrestler has a chunk of his hair pulled out (a part which caused me to squint in nervous sympathy pains) and various scenes with wrestlers being beaten seemed a little over-played, and had a negative influence on my brother which resulted in him wanting to play-act the fights. Overall, I’m sure that you will find numerous more fruitful ways to spend 1 ½ hours of your life, and I suggest you use them instead of this movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Stephanie, age 15