How Matías Got His Nightclub

Screenplay by Alan Nafzger

Matías is a humble and poor young Mexican man. In the day, Matías is shy and unassuming. But at night a flamboyant and charismatic personality emerges. He is custom built to run a nightclub. Matías has a dream to own a night club in a Cancun. He loves to dance and the night life inspires him to leave his small village for the United States. He only has a few clothes but has a mysterious manila folder, stuffs full of papers. 

Next we see him, he is held in detention until his immigration status is determined.  A member of a Mexican drug cartel has a guard let them into the facility. The detainees are paraded in front of a cartel member holding a photo. They are looking for a look-alike double for Pablo, the cartel boss.  When they find Matías, he is a rough match for one of the FBI’s most wanted men.  The cartel gets him out of detention and offers him a large sum of money to pretend to be Pablo. He does weigh all the options, death capture. However, his family is starving in Mexico. He needs money for his family and for a nightclub. This dream will never happen unless he takes a chance. The cartel is both threatening and persuasive. Matías finally agrees, planning to buy a nightclub with the money he will earn.

While preparing for his role, Matías is watched over by Santiago, a bottom-rung gangster who has recently gotten into trouble for losing a shipment of drugs. During a short and boring stay at a border hotel, Santiago decides to give Matías one last weekend to remember in Las Vegas before he is captured. Santiago is aware of the plot for him to be captured, with cell phones, guns and drugs. The logic is that if Matías is captured then the FBI will stop looking for Pablo.

After arriving at the hotel and casino, Santiago’s tall tales and Matías’s quiet dignity quickly get Matías mistaken for Pablo, leading to complications for both men. Santiago uses subterfuge to fool anyone looking for Matías. He has the hotel manager give him one room and then have another they give people who are asking for them.

Matías is more concerned with the night life and visits every night club in Vegas over a short period. He has a dream and makes powerful friends at each club. The nightclub owners and managers think Matías is Pablo. He meets two women who think he is just a nice guy. The two women invite him for the weekend to hang out with them at the lake. He gets directions to their boat dock.

Matías and Santiago become friends and Santiago begins to feel guilty about having Matías captured. Matías shares his dream of owning a night club. Matías shows him a folder with architectural drawings and interior design sketches of his dream night club. There is a menu and a drink list. There is building picked out from the real-estate listings. In Matías’s enthusiasm, he can explain every decision from the location to the design to the atmosphere of the club. There are even inventories and “grand opening” invitations already planned out.

Matías hasn’t really been pitching Santiago to be an investor but Santiago is impressed. Matías has designed a masterpiece and seems to be a very astute businessman. However, Santiago explains that the money Matías is supposed to be paid by the cartel probably will not be enough for such an elaborate club. Santiago advises that Matías should plan a less grand nightclub. This causes Matías to question whether the masquerade and the risk is worth it. Matías thinks about leaving and returning home, but stays because of loyalty to Santiago. Santiago would be killed if Matías welches on the deal.

As they talk, Matías and Santiago discover that they come from the same village. They don’t know each other because of circumstance and there are from different generations and socio-economic groups.  They both have family still in the village. Matías has never spoken to her but is aware of Santiago’s daughter, Isabella. Isabella is too beautiful for the local boys to approach. She is intimidating. Matías hasn’t approached her because he feels she doesn’t like to dance. However, the local boys are just too shy to ask Isabella to dance; no boy in the entire village has the guts or is in her social class. And she is considered a “good and pious girl” and untouchable.

Santiago reveals that his daughter loves to dance and that all his daughters dance with each other at home, all most constantly. The neighbors once call the police and accused Santiago of operating a disco from their home. When the police arrived they found 8 of Santiago’s daughters dancing and drinking Dr. Pepper.  Santiago has no son.

Another reason that no one asks Santiago’s daughter to dance at the dances in the Mexican village, is that they are afraid of her father, who is obviously a gangster. A thief approached Isabella once and Santiago beat the hell out of him in front of the entire village.

Santiago has taken a liking to Matías.  And he admits that Matías is the only boy he would like to date his daughter. There is the implication that he should come to visit her and ask her out on a date and if that happened he would have Santiago’s permission.

Santiago hasn’t been aware, but the cartel has been planning going to kill Matías all along at the border town hotel; they have only been waiting for him to grow a mustache. When they learn Santiago and Matías are held up in a Vegas hotel they figure that will simply make the hit there.

There is a competing cartel and Matías is summoned by them. Santiago tries to tell them that Matías is on vacation and doesn’t want to do any business but they insist. However; trying to play it safe Santiago negotiates a better meeting place, a crowded Las Vegas night club. Matías has been studying the materials used to build night clubs. For aesthetic reasons, he is interested in the very dense woods. To fool the FBI, the cartel plants drugs, money and guns in Matías’s room. They walk down stairs to the night club and try to assassinate Matías.

When the bullets start flying Matías rolls a table in front of his friend Santiago. Matías sacrifices himself to protect Santiago. The hard wood table stops the bullet. However, Matías is then shot. The opposing cartel members at the meeting are killed. Matías is taken to a hospital in serious condition. Santiago calmly walks upstairs and packs his and Matías’s things. Santiago finds the money and guns and drugs. By the time the FBI find the correct room, Santiago has left with the money. The FBI find the drugs and guns. However, they have bio-metric information, DNA, retina printing and quickly determine that Matías is not the real Pablo.

Matías recovers and leaves the hospital. He takes a job from one of his nightclub friends. On weekends he hangs with the beautiful party crowd, out on the young women’s boat, but he isn’t overly happy. He is making money and living rent free but he calculates it will be a very long time before he can return to Mexico with enough money to open a night club.

The film ends with Matías living on his bosses house boat, receiving a FedEx package a key, photos, a flier and some newspaper clippings with the “Grand Opening” advertising. The nightclub to so similar to his original plans, the only explanation is that Santiago has taken the money to Mexico and bought the nightclub. The key is to the front door of Matías’s new nightclub.

Cancun Nightclub Links

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