Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Funny Movie Churches: South of the Border Double Feature

The first of today's Movie Churches, a monastery, is in 2006's Nacho Libre (directed by Jared Hess of "Napoleon Dynamite" fame).

If you go by the text of James 1:27, that true religion is to care for orphans and remain unstained by the world, then the monks of Nacho Libre are doing pretty well. They are caring for orphans, and they seem to have no idea what's going on in the world. But maybe they don't have everything wired.

Though they feed orphans, the budget for that feeding is pretty meager. Monk Nacho (Jack Black) sticks pretty much to a menu of refried beans usually, but not always, topped with charity chips (when left outside the back door of a restaurant).

Nacho does have a fascination with at least one aspect of the world, lucha libre wrestling. He notices that while luchadores have wealth, fame and respect from the world, he isn't even respected by his fellow monks. Nacho wants to do priestly duties beyond cooking, believing he "knows a buttload about the Gospel." But those priestly duties don't come.

So Nacho goes, in disguise with a luchador mask, into the wrestling ring. He finds that even when he loses a wrestling match, he's paid. And he uses that money to up the quality of the orphans' meals, providing them with salad with their beans.

One of the orphans spies Nacho in wrestling tights and suddenly Nacho has found respect. The kids begin to wrestle and one of the nuns, Sister Encarnation, scolds them. She turns to Nacho for back-up and he says, "The Bible says do not wrestle your neighbor."

Nacho goes on living a double life until one fateful worship service in the chapel. He lights a candle and accidentally sets his robe on fire, revealing his wrestling outfit underneath. Nacho's superior tells Nacho he's "not a man of God!"

Nacho isn't too fond of himself either. He asks God in prayer, "Why did you give me a desire to wrestle yet make me such a stinky warrior?"

As usually happens in movies, it all comes down to the Big Match. Nacho trusts that "God will be with me in the ring to make money for the orphans."

The big money Nacho wins seems to make everything okay with the other monks. But more importantly, it makes life better for the orphans -- and doesn't hurt the Movie Church rating which is a thumbs up.

Three Amigos (1986) has much in common with Nacho Libre. The action in both films takes place chiefly in Mexico. And both films are about very stupid characters. Some think they're both very stupid films. Fortunately, I don't have to judge such things. I'm just here to talk about the churches in the films.

And there is a church in Three Amigos. At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to a small town named Santa Poco (Little Saint) that is terrorized by bandits. A woman from the village, Carmen, goes to a city to find help, hoping to perhaps find gunmen who will defend the village.

She goes first to a saloon where men threaten her instead of helping her. She goes out on the street and hears church bells. The church bells give her hope, and she tells her brother, "You must have faith; the Holy Mother will help us."

Inside the church, a silent film is playing, one that features the Three Amigos, western heroes. In the film, the heroes rescue a village from bandits. Carmen knows that God has answered her prayers. Though we learn that the Amigos are actors without any experience of combat, Carmen turns to them for help. And (Spoiler), in the end they do save the day.

Both films have Three Steeple Ratings.

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