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Diego Luna as Beto (left), Gael Garcia Bernal as Tato.
Diego Luna as Beto (left), Gael Garcia Bernal as Tato.

A lazy Hollywood-style comedy, with a Mexican accent Add to ...

  • Country USA
  • Language English

Rudo y Cursi

  • Written and directed by Carlos Cuaron
  • Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Guillermo Francella
  • Classification: 18A

Whether you're about to sign a legal document or studying a movie ad, it's important to read the fine print. Case in point: the Mexican sports comedy, Rudo y Cursi , a film that features most of the names associated with Y tu mama tambien , the smart, smouldering road movie that, along with Amores Perros , marked the beginning of Mexican New Wave cinema.

Except the 2001 film was written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who went on to make Children of Men . Rudo y Cursi is brother Carlos's work. And the sports movie simply isn't in the same league as Y tu mama tambien .

It's clear from the film's title, which means "crude and corny" in English, that Cuaron is attempting to make a rousing, audience-friendly melodrama. Nothing wrong with that, filmmakers should play to the crowd. Who wants to go to a museum to see a movie? Still, there is an art to pleasing the masses. And Cuaron would seem to accept crude and corny as a creative imperative.

The film features Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, stars of Y tu mama tambien . Here, they play half-brothers Tato and Beto, penniless, big-dreaming stars of a banana plantation soccer league. All of that changes when a talent scout-agent, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), slithers into their lives. First, the moneyman brings Tato, then Beto, to Mexico City, where they become superstars, make pots of money, pick up nicknames (Rudo and Cursi), and quickly lose their souls.

Tato, a big goal scorer, becomes addicted to cocaine and models. Net-minder Beto loses everything gambling and becomes a slave to the mob. Both are on the verge of sporting (if not physical) extinction, when Batuta intercedes, offering the boys a way out if one of the brothers agrees to throw the big game. Rudo y Cursi isn't really a typical sports movie. There are relatively few on-field soccer scenes, which is just as well: Garcia Bernal and Luna are unathletic specimens and Cuaron isn't much of an action director. No, what we're watching is human comedy played out as a sports story. But why does it have to be such a broad comedy? Why do Garcia Bernal and Luna, who were so credible and touching, posturing as teenage macho men in Y tu mama tambien , such dull company this time out? And where did Mexico disappear to?

The brothers' sister ends up marrying a criminal. The syndicate owns Tato and Beto, too. If you try hard enough, you can make an argument that Rudo y Cursi is the portrait of a society of dreamers who have been corrupted by dream merchants - dope peddlers, gambling and sports hustlers.

But it's really a lazy comedy that is content telling a crude and corny Hollywood story with a Mexican accent. Another cross-cultural eccentricity: For some reason, Rudo y Cursi 's subtitles have been written in Jeeves and Wooster English. Phrases like tally-ho, blokes and maties inexplicably whiz by the bottom of the screen. Ay carumba-blimey, what a mess.

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