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Film / Nacho Libre

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Nacho Libre is a 2006 comedy film starring Jack Black loosely based on the true story of Fray Tormenta, a Mexican priest who secretly fought as a masked wrestler to support his orphanage (Tormenta himself was inspired to do this by wrestling movies).

The movie features Black as Brother Ignacio, a monk who cooks at a poor children's orphanage. Having always dreamed of being a wrestler (and wanting to gain money to help feed the orphans), Ignacio assumes the Secret Identity of the luchador Nacho, teaming up with a skinny man named Steven who goes by the stage name of Esqueleto (Skeleton).

Tropes found in this film:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Mentioned below in Acrofatic.
  • Acrofatic: Nacho absolutely qualifies, particularly in the final fight where he runs rings around his opponent before diving several meters from the top rope like an eagle to tackle the fleeing Ramses. Esqueleto's admirer could also count, although her ability to get around could be more down to the incredibly obvious crawlspaces she has in her home's walls.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Downplayed. From the start, Nacho wanted respect and glory, and he still buys better food for the orphans.
  • All-Loving Hero: Sister Encarnacion is a very generous nun who treats Nacho cordially when all the other monks look down on him and similarly cares for the orphans like Nacho does.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese version is called "Go! Go! Carlito" by the Swedish pop singer Jonny Jakobsen, written with a Mexican theme of course.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The overall feel of the film evokes a 1970s setting. Even though the clothes wouldn't have been out of place in the mid-2000s (when the film was released), the few cars seen are no newer than 1975 models.
  • Artistic License Religion: The film takes quite a few liberties with the Catholic faith (specifically with the Consecrated Life, i.e. priests, monks, nuns). The most egregious example is Ignacio's relationship with Encarnation: in real life, members of a religious order take a lifelong vow of celibacy, and while it is possible to quit being a monk or nun, you're still bound by your pledge as long as you're with the religious order.
  • Artistic License Sports: A great many liberties are taken with professional wrestling. The most glaring issue is that it presents wrestling as real and not staged, but this can be forgiven for the sake of the plot. However, certain basic rules in professional wrestling (even in Kayfabe) are ignored. For example, to finish one match, the hero receives a tombstone piledriver, a move which is illegal in Mexico, where the story is set. In the climax of the film, he even pins his opponent... outside the ring. Granted, the opponent was running away so it's not like he had much of another choice. Plus, it makes for a much more satisfying conclusion.
  • Bash Brothers: A luchador team that takes on Nacho and Esqueleto.
  • Bilingual Bonus: For background conversations.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't tell Ignacio that you hate the orphans of the world.
    • Don't knock any corn out of Esqueleto's hand.
    • Don't tell Ramses he's the best or number one to his face unless you're someone he actually likes or trusts. Every time Nacho does so he gets the shit kicked out of him or embarrassed in some way.
  • Broken Pedestal: Nacho has always looked up to Ramses and wanted to be a wrestler like him, even going to him for advice. However, once he and Esqueleto show up at the party, Ramses proves to be a Jerkass by pouring punch on Nacho's shirt. Henceforth, any admiration Nacho had for him goes down the drain.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Nacho is part Scandinavian and part Mexican.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Ramses with autographs and Silencio with a begging child.
  • Casting Gag: In the Japanese dub, Nacho is voiced by Wataru Takagi, who already voiced wrestlers before.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Ignacio burns his robe off enough to reveal his secret but doesn't get any serious burns himself. Justified by Rule of Funny.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: ¡Sientate! (Sit down!)
  • Chastity Couple: Nacho and Encarnación have a romance but it's strictly chaste due to their vows.
  • Child Hater: Esqueleto admits to hating all the orphans of the world, at first at least. He warms up to them before calling Nacho back into the ring to fight Ramses.
  • Coins for the Dead: The movie opens with Ignacio administering last rites to a man thought to have already died, then placing two coins over his eyes and covering him with a sheet. The man then wakes up and removes the sheet and turns his head to glare at Ignacio, causing the coins to fall to the floor.
  • Consolation Prize: Both Nacho and Esqueleto are surprised when after their first failed wrestling match for a prize of 200 pesos the manager comes in with a envelope filled with money, telling them "we all get a piece" regardless. While this is enough for both men at first, since it allows them to achieve higher standards of living and help the orphans, Nacho slowly grows dissatisfied with getting "paid to lose" as their losing streak continues and seeks to win a real victory.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Every match Nacho loses has his opponents blatantly cheating in some form to win, from illegal moves like biting, the usage of weapons such as belts and chairs, ganging up on him out of turn in a tag bout, attacking him and Esqueleto before the bell is even rung, to tripping him from outside the ring during a battle royale.
  • Dean Bitterman: One of the monks to Ignacio.
  • Determinator: Nacho and Esqueleto participate in Curb Stomp matches only for the base pay.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: The winner of a battle royale wrestling match gets a title fight against champ Ramses. Nacho is the last man eliminated, with the victory going to Ramses' goon Silencio. When Silencio is injured the day before the match, Nacho gets to fight Ramses instead.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Pretty much the first thing Ramses does when he is introduced is hit a reporter with his car door while stepping out.
  • Eye Scream: Esqueleto impales a thug's eye with an ear of corn (his partner was going to stab them.)
  • Fastball Special: Satan's Cavemen.
  • Food Porn: Once Ignacio has the money to afford decent groceries, the salads he makes for the orphans look as delicious as they are extravagant. This is in comparison to the revolting Poverty Food he'd previously been making from the moldy cabbages and (donated) nacho chips.
  • Friend to All Children: Nacho, his motivation for his wrestling was to support the livelihood of orphans at his church.
  • Generation Xerox: Chacho to Ignacio.
  • The Giant: At 6'7 and over 300 lbs, Silencio was definitely the biggest wrestler in the movie and had no problem throwing two men at once. Granted they were both very skinny guys but still.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: It's natural with wrestling.
  • Heroic BSoD: Nacho has one when he escapes to the "wilderness" (i.e. just outside of the town outskirts) after his second-place battle royale finish. He's only talked out of it with a pep talk from Esqueleto.
  • Hide and No Seek: While playing a game with the kids outside, Ignacio decides to talk to the hot new nun, Encarnacion.
    Ignacio: OK kids, new game. *dropkicks ball* Go get it!
  • It's All About Me: Ramses
  • Improvised Weapon: Elotes and churros.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The main characters speak stilted English as if to remind us that they're actually speaking Spanish. The same goes in the Mexican Spanish dub, as all the Mexican characters speak with thick accents.
  • Large Ham: Nacho, as expected when played by Jack Black.
  • Lethal Chef: Downplayed with Nacho, who initially served slop only because that's the best he could do with the ingredients he could get. Once he starts earning money from wrestling he starts making much more appetizing meals like fresh salads.
  • Lethal Joke Character: What Nacho seems to have evolved into by the end of the film. His moves aren't as refined as Ramses' and involve a lot of showboating and pranking. But despite that, he's more or less competent and his reversals allow him to surprise more powerful opponents. And, of course, if his Heroic Resolve kicks in, he'll channel the spirit of the Eagle on your ass.
  • Loser Protagonist: Nacho is an overweight and somewhat obnoxious man that gets no respect from the other monks in the monastery, but he's well-meaning and the orphans look up to him at least. When he starts wrestling, the only person he can get to fight with him is Steven, a homeless man, and he proceeds to lose all his fights except for the very last one.
  • Mood Whiplash: Ignacio, when talking about his origins.
    "My mother was a Lutheran minister from Scandinavia, and my father a deacon from Mexico. They tried to convert each other, but they got married instead... and then they died."
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Nacho's song praising Ramses stops when Ramses splashes wine on Nacho.
  • My Parents Are Dead: Nacho to Encarnacion, when he explains how his mother was a Scandinavian Lutheran minister and his father was a Mexican deacon who tried to convert each other but got married instead. And then they died for no specified reason.
  • Oh, Crap!: The moment Ramses sees Nacho about to do his huge leap, he freaks out and tries to run away.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Esqueleto, self-proclaimed "man of science" who looks down on Ignacio's belief in God, suggests seeing a water gypsy to find eagle eggs to get their strength. Ignacio outright calls him crazy at first before being talked into trying it.
  • Race Lift: Strongly averted. Filmed and cast entirely in Mexico, except for Jack Black. Justified, considering his character Ignacio is half-Mexican.
  • Rags to Riches: One of the main reasons Nacho enters wrestling is to do this both for himself and for the orphanage, at least to some extent.
  • Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: Ignacio climbs up a cliff to gather and eat the yolk of an eagle's egg to become empowered by it.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The older monk does complain about Nacho's food (to be fair, even Nacho spits it out) and is disappointed to see Nacho is a wrestler, but he is also quick to stop an argument with the snaggle toothed monk and to grab some Holy Water when Nacho's clothes are on fire.
  • Religious Bruiser: Nacho, once he gets serious.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Esqueleto big time.
  • Silent Antagonist: Aside from speaking Spanish in one scene, Ramses doesn't say a single word in the entire film.
  • Street Urchin: Steven aka Esqueleto started off as one, stealing the chips Nacho was supposed to use for his cooking. Nacho convinces him to fight with him (for the money) and becomes more well-off with their earnings.
  • Timeshifted Actor: We see Nacho both as a teen and as an adult.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Esqueleto acquired a taste for elotes (Mexican seasoned corn-on-the-cob).
  • Translation Convention: Presumably all the characters are speaking Spanish, despite the dialogue of the main characters being in English (other characters speak actual Spanish, making this more confusing.)
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Downplayed. Jack Black for the most part does a convincing Mexican accent, but at times it sounds like he's playing an Italian.
  • With Catlike Tread: Nacho attempts to jump Esqueleto, but he farts before pouncing.