Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and brief drug use, 103 minutes
In Spanish with English subtitles
Relaxed "Rudo y Cursi" enjoyable and touching
"Rudo y Cursi" is a dramedy that tells the story of two Mexican brothers who are plucked from squalid obscurity and rise to fame as rival soccer players in Mexico City. "Rudo y Cursi" reunites the stars and director of "Y Tu Mama Tambien," a superb, ground-breaking (and altogether scorching) film. Entertaining fun, touching and well-acted, "Rudo y Cursi" a little too ambitious and heavy-handed at times, but you'll still get a kick out of most of it.
Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna play Tato and Beto, two brothers scraping by as banana farm laborers in rural Mexico , until one day a scout spies their friendly game of soccer and sign them on as star athletes for rival teams. They quickly learn that the high life of top players-fame, money, and beautiful women-has a dark side. And when their professional rivalry turns bitter and personal, the brothers see that they must reunite before they lose everything they once dreamed of.
Carlos Cuaron, directs and writes the enjoyably pleasant "Rudo and Cursi," and the director of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" reunites the stars of that film, real-life pals Bernal and Luna, whose realistic, relaxed chemistry highlights the film. They're very believable as brothers, helped by the fact that the two actors have been life-long friends who know each other well. Bernal is especially good as Tato, who's real passion is singing, while Luna is sympathetic as the goalie with a gambling problem. Cuaron adds some pretty flavor to "Rudo and Cursi," in the form of Adriana Paz as Beto's strong-willed wife and particularly Jessica Maz as the beautiful TV star that Tato becomes involved with.
"Rudo and Cursi" is really a rags-to-riches-to-rags story that pertinently tells what can happen when you let fame get to your head. Cuaron's messages are a little too heavy-handed and the narration unecessary - we can figure things out without the obvious metaphors regarding individualism, family loyalty and even soccer balls. Cuaron's script is also a little uneven, awkwardly transitioning from comedy to drama back to comedy. It works better as a comedy, with some truly funny moments along the way, the most memorable having Luna dressed up as a Cowboy singing a Spanish version of Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me" to some kids at a circus.
"Rudo y Cursi" is a looser, more charming film that succeeds in a different way than "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (sorry, no steamy, sensual scenes this time out) and essentially ends up back at where it all started. The film scores points with the amiable Bernal-Luna partnership that helps to forgive the script's ambitious flaws. "Rudo y Cursi" is a warm, enjoyable movie and a nice alternative to the big-budget "Wolverine's" out there.