‘Rudo Y Cursi’: Brother Act, By Kurt Loder

Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal shine again in a sunny Mexican comedy.

[movie id="354099"]“Rudo y Cursi”[/movie] is a sports movie for people who couldn’t care less about sports. It’s set in the world of Mexican professional fútbol, but very little soccer actually intrudes upon the story, which is a standard rags-to-riches tale energized by a pair of lively performances from its stars. [movieperson id="164669"]Diego Luna[/movieperson] and [movieperson id="259270"]Gael García Bernal[/movieperson], longtime friends who broke out together in the 2001 hit [movie id="203408"]“Y tu mamá también,”[/movie] play a pair of half-brothers stuck in the bumpkin flatlands of rural Mexico dreaming of fame and fortune, and the actors’ loose, squabbling interplay lifts the film above the sturdy genre clichés on which it’s been built. (Beyond reteaming Luna and García Bernal, the movie also reunited them with writer-director Carlos Cuarón, who cowrote “Y tu mamá” with that film’s director, his brother Alfonso Cuarón — one of the producers of this picture, along with fellow Mexican movie titans Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu.)

The two brothers, nicknamed Rudo (Luna) and Cursi (García Bernal), are unhappy in their humble home village, picking bananas and playing smalltime soccer on the side. Rudo is a great natural goalie (“You’re a wall!” a fan later tells him) and Cursi has a golden kick (although he really longs to become a pop idol — a dream unclouded by the fact that he’s a terrible singer). After a traveling sports scout named Batuta (Guillermo Francella) spots them in a village game, they soon find themselves in Mexico City — the big time — where they become key players on opposing teams. As stardom descends, all the usual complications ensue. Cursi, an aspiring playboy, acquires a luxury pad and some hot wheels, starts highlighting his hair, and soon gets suckered in by a beautiful sports groupie named Maya (Jessica Mas). Rudo is unswervingly loyal to his wife and kids back home, but he’s a compulsive gambler, and soon he’s in serious hock to some big-time mobsters — who know just what they’d like him to do to pay off his debt.

The movie has no major surprises (at least until the end, which is unexpectedly dark), but it’s consistently funny. Rudo is taken aback by fans who clamor for his autograph, but also swear to kill him if he loses a big game. Meanwhile, Cursi learns he’s been dumped by Maya when he sees her on television snuggled up to a new fútbol hero, and the sight provides a double dose of overdue illumination: “She’s f—ing some other idiot!” he yelps.

Luna, with his leading-man looks and woebegone expressions, is an ideal foil for García Bernal, whose motor mouth and lizardy grin keep the movie sparking along with lovable-idiot energy. They have real comic chemistry, and you have to hope they’ll get together again in some future film — possibly with a more ambitious script at their disposal.

Don’t miss Kurt Loder’s reviews of “Star Trek” and “Little Ashes,” also new in theaters this week.

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