Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jared Hess|
|Cinematography||Xavier Perez Grobet|
|Edited by||Billy Weber|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$99.3 million|
Nacho Libre is a 2006 American comedy film directed by Jared Hess with music by Danny Elfman and written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and Mike White. It was loosely based on the story of Fray Tormenta ("Friar Storm"), aka Rev. Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez, a real-life Mexican Catholic priest who had a 23-year career as a masked luchador. He competed in order to support the orphanage he directed. The producers are Jack Black, David Klawans, Julia Pistor and Mike White. The film stars Jack Black, Troy Gentile, Ana de la Reguera, Hector Jimenez, Peter Stormare, Carla Jimenez, Richard Montoya, César González, Moisés Arias, Donald Chambers, Darius Rose, Diego Eduardo Gomez and Craig Williams. The film received mixed reviews from critics. The film was theatrically released on June 16, 2006 by Paramount Pictures.
Ignacio was the son of a Scandinavian Lutheran missionary and a Mexican deacon, who both died while Ignacio was young. Now a cook for the Oaxaca, Mexico monastery orphanage where he was raised, Ignacio dreams of becoming a luchador, but wrestling is strictly forbidden by the monastery. Ignacio cares deeply for the orphans, but his food is of poor quality because he cannot afford proper ingredients. He also struggles over his feelings for Sister Encarnación, a nun who teaches at the orphanage. One night, while collecting donated tortilla chips for the orphans, Ignacio is robbed of the chips by a street thief named Steven. After a fight between the two, Ignacio decides to disregard the monastery's rules and become a luchador in order to make money. He convinces Steven to join him with the promise of remuneration if they win, and the two join a local competition as tag partners.
Ignacio changes his name to "Nacho" to keep his identity secret, while Steven adopts the name "Esqueleto" (Skeleton). They are defeated in their first match, but are nevertheless paid, as every wrestler is entitled to a portion of the total revenue. They continue to wrestle every week, with Ignacio using his pay to buy and prepare better food for the orphans, but Ignacio gradually grows annoyed with the consistent losses. Steven brings him to a gypsy-like man known as "Emperor" who tells Ignacio to climb to an eagle's nest, crack open the egg and swallow the yolk, claiming that he will gain the powers of an eagle. Ignacio completes the task, but still loses the next several bouts, frustrating him. He seeks advice from champion luchador Ramses, but Ramses is vain and in no mood to help aspiring wrestlers.
Ignacio's secret is finally exposed to the entire monastery when his robe catches fire during church, exposing his wrestling costume. He admits that he is Nacho and tells them that he intends to fight at a battle royale between eight luchadores for the right to take on Ramses, and for a cash prize, which he will use to improve life for the orphans. But the wrestler Silencio wins the match; Nacho comes in second place. Feeling shunned at the monastery, Ignacio leaves to wander in the nearby wilderness.
The next morning, Steven comes to tell him that Silencio has been injured (Steven ran over his foot) and cannot fight, meaning that Nacho—as the second-place finisher—receives the right to fight Ramses. Ignacio and Steven agree to team up again. That night, Ignacio sends a message via Steven to Encarnación, explaining his plan and confessing his love to her (as a sister).
Despite initial difficulty, Nacho does well in the match. When the crowd begins to support Ignacio, Ramses resorts to cheating. Nacho is nearly defeated—indeed, unmasked—by Ramses, when Encarnación enters the stadium with the orphans. Elated and inspired, Nacho rallies himself and defeats Ramses.
Ignacio becomes a professional wrestler and uses his prize money to buy a bus for field trips for the children. The film closes with Ignacio, Steven and Sister Encarnación taking the children to see the city of Monte Albán.
- Jack Black as Ignacio/Nacho
- Troy Gentile as young Ignacio
- Ana de la Reguera as Sister Encarnación
- Hector Jimenez as Esqueleto/Steven
- Peter Stormare as Emperor
- Carla Jimenez as Cándida
- Richard Montoya as Guillermo
- César González as Ramses
- Moisés Arias as Juan Pablo
- Donald Chambers as Silencio
- Darius Rose as Chancho
- Diego Eduardo Gomez as Chuy
- Craig Williams as El Snowflake
Director Hess originally wanted musical artist Beck to be behind the soundtrack for the film. Beck, being a fan of Hess, accepted. However, Paramount Pictures didn't think Beck's style fit the movie, and decided to try to get composer Danny Elfman to replace him. Elfman then wrote a full score and recorded it in May 2006. However, only about 2/3 of Elfman's score ended up in the movie. Due to how much of Elfman's music filled the film, Elfman's representatives asked that Elfman be the only person credited for the film's score. Hess caught wind of this and would not allow the studio to remove Beck from the credits. When finding that he would not have the only music credit, Elfman told Paramount to remove his name from the film. An agreement was eventually reached where both Beck and Elfman were credited for their respective parts of the score.
Release and reception
The release date was originally set for May 2006, but was changed by Paramount to avoid competition from Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand and one of Paramount's other films, Mission: Impossible III. It was then placed between the releases of Disney/Pixar's Cars (June 9) and Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' Superman Returns (June 28). It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 24, 2006. It was distributed in Switzerland, Spain, and the Netherlands by Universal Pictures. The film received mixed reviews by critics; it was labeled as "Rotten" on the Rotten Tomatoes website, with 40% of the reviews being favorable and an average rating of 5.1/10. Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus states: "At times hilarious, but other times offensive, director Jared Hess is unable to recapture the collective charisma of his Napoleon Dynamite characters, instead relying on a one-joke concept that runs out of steam. Sure to entertain the adolescents, however". According to Roger Ebert, "it takes some doing to make a Jack Black comedy that doesn't work, but Nacho Libre does it". Michael Medved gave the film two and a half stars (out of four) calling it "amusing, but resistable [sic]", but adding that "director Jared Hess [employs] the same off-beat humor that made his Napoleon Dynamite a cult hit". During its opening weekend, Nacho Libre grossed $28,309,599, opening at #2 behind Cars' second weekend. The total domestic box office stands at $80,197,993 and a worldwide total of $99,255,460.
The track listing for the official soundtrack to Nacho Libre. The soundtrack was released October 24, 2006
- Hombre Religioso (Religious Man) - Mister Loco
- "A Nice Pile-Drive to the Face" (dialogue) - Jack Black
- Move, Move, Move - Alan Hawkshaw and Alan Parker
- Papas - Mister Loco
- Singing at the Party - Jack Black with Ismael Garcia Ruiz y Su Trio
- Ramses Suite - Danny Elfman
- "All the Orphans in the World" (dialogue) - Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez
- There is No Place in This World for Me - Beck
- "I'm Serious" (dialogue) - Jack Black
- 10,000 Pesos - Beck
- Irene - Caetano Veloso
- Pump a Jam (Ramses) - Cholotronic
- Black is Black - Eddie Santiago
- Half Forgotten Daydreams - John Cameron
- Encarnación - Jack Black
- Tender Beasts of the Spangled Night - Beck
- Saint Behind the Glass - Los Lobos
- "Beneath the Clothes We Find the Man..." (dialogue) - Jack Black
- Forbidden Nectar - Jack Black and Mucho Macho Acapulco
Some songs that were not included on the soundtrack, but were in the movie, are "Mucha Muchacha" by Esquivel, "Bubblegum" by Mister Loco, "Holy Man" by Beck and "Bat Macumba" by Os Mutantes.
In November 2006, Jack Black revealed that a sequel was a possibility: "I sure hope so, I love working with Jared. I think it's a good bet that we'll collaborate on something again. Mike had an idea that it would be Nacho goes to Japan, we'll see though." However, Jared Hess (who directed the original movie) revealed in October 2009 that Paramount had never approached him about doing a sequel to Nacho Libre, though he said he would "love to work with Black again".
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