Whom Do You Serve?
Release Date: June 16, 2006
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 92 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon
Director: Jared Hess
Executive Producer: Steve Nicolaides
Writer: Jared Hess and Mike White
Address Comments To:Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
Gail Berman, President
Motion Picture Group
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
Jack Black plays Ignacio, an orphaned boy in a Mexican monastery who dreams of glory in the wrestling ring but is convinced by the monks to become a monk. Problem is, when Ignacio (also known as "Nacho") becomes an adult, he still dreams of becoming a famous Mexican wrestler. He also is upset that the other monks have relegated him to the kitchen. Things get more complicated when a pretty young nun named Encarnación becomes the new teacher for the current orphan boys.
While Ignacio searches for a way to become a famous masked wrestler, he competes for Encarnación's attentions with another monk. At one point, Ignacio tells her in a letter that he has dreams of leaving the monastery with her so they can get married and have children. Encarnación holds Ignacio at bay, however. Also, when Ignacio's troubled wrestling exploits become known, she expresses disapproval of his efforts, even though he uses most of his winnings to help feed the orphans, the monks and her at the monastery. Eventually, she inspires Ignacio by telling him to "fight for something noble or someone who needs your help" and by showing up at the big wrestling match with the young orphan boys, who think of Ignacio as their hero.
NACHO LIBRE is sometimes very funny. This is mostly because of the quirky but appealing talents of Jack Black, who mugs, struts, dances, and cavorts his way throughout much of the movie. The movie could be better, however, and is not something that will suit everyone's taste, especially people who hate goofy comedies rated only PG or those who don't find Jack Black's shtick to their liking.
The movie is usually not overtly lewd, but it does take some risks regarding the unrequited romance between its monkish hero and the pretty young nun. At one point, Ignacio tries to attract Encarnación by showing off his flabby muscles and getting into a fight. This scene may contain the movie's most offensive moment.
Thus, NACHO LIBRE flirts with sacrilegious material by finding comedy in a Christian, Roman Catholic setting. Some people may feel, therefore, that it crosses the line.
On the other hand, the movie has strong Christian content. Ignacio argues with his sidekick, who says he believes in science rather than God. At the end, the sidekick suggests to Ignacio that they should pray before Ignacio's climactic match with the Number One wrestler. There is no conversion scene here, but viewers do get to see the skeptical sidekick actually leading the whole prayer. Also, Ignacio uses most of his wrestling income throughout the movie to help the orphans. The movie also criticizes celebrities who treat their fans badly, especially their young fans. Ignacio becomes a positive hero to the children when he battles the mean wrestler, who is the Number One celebrity around the countryside.
Ultimately, therefore, though it flirts with sacrilege, and perhaps crosses the line, NACHO LIBRE has a mixed worldview with strong Christian content and moral elements to go along with its borderline, problematic content. At the end, Ignacio and Encarnación apparently keep their vows and continue to serve God while helping the orphans. Thus, in asking the question, Whom Do You Serve? (albeit in a comical fashion), NACHO LIBRE sides with Encarnación, who tells Ignacio that he should serve God by fighting for "something noble or someone who needs your help."
Jack Black is very popular with children, so parents may need to take extra caution with this movie's problematic content. Asking children and teenagers questions about Ignacio's faith, the idea of making a vow to God and the skeptical sidekick's prayer might be a good way to relate the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the movie's story and subplots.
NACHO LIBRE is sometimes very funny, mostly because of the quirky talents of Jack Black, who mugs and cavorts his way throughout the movie. NACHO LIBRE could be better, however, and will not suit everyone's taste. The movie flirts with sacrilege and crosses the line at least once, but contains strong Christian content, including a positive ending. The movie is usually not overtly lewd, but it does take some risks regarding its unrequited romance. For example, Ignacio tries to use his muscles to attract the nun's interest. They apparently keep their vows to serve God, however.