Together for the first time since Y Tu Mamá También, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna team up as soccer-playing half-brothers in Mexican director Carlos Caurón’s scattershot corn-fest Rudo y Cursi. The gulf between the sensibilities of Carlos and better-known big brother Alfonso Caurón is apparent right off the bat: Rudo and Cursi are the country-bumpkin antithesis of the characters Bernal and Luna played in Alfonso’s similarly manic if much more emotionally complex Y Tu Mamá También.
Rudo (Luna), married with a kid, is an assistant foreman at a rural banana plantation.
Cursi (Bernal), who has grandiose dreams of becoming a Pop music star, is one of Rudo’s banana-gathering underlings. Both are gifted soccer players — or so says Bututa (Guillermo Francella), a jovial hustler and soccer scout who accidentally catches one of the brothers’ weekly matches. Bututa likes what he sees and eventually invites each of them to Mexico City where they become overnight sensations — Rudo is an ace goalie with a gambling problem, while Cursi is a prolific goal-scorer who, yes, becomes an Pop music sensation — which is when Cauron’s tone-deaf mix of drama and screwball comedy really lays on the clichés.
The perils of fame and fortune take down the brothers as quickly as it propped them up, a narrative arc Rudo y Cursi delivers with the subtlety of an Adam Sandler flick. That’s not to say Bernal and Luna aren’t fun to watch — they tackle the ribald dialogue, deeply unconvincing plot and corny emotional turns with enough conviction to almost make us believe in this ludicrous tale. Grade: C
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