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Mini Film Review: 'Rudo y Cursi'

Diego Luna stars in "Rudo y Cursi," which reteams him with "Y Tu Mamá También" co-star Gael García Bernal.
Diego Luna stars in "Rudo y Cursi," which reteams him with "Y Tu Mamá También" co-star Gael García Bernal. (By Ivonne Venegas/sony Pictures Classics)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

The last time Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal shared the screen, they were unknown actors playing horny teenagers on a road trip of self-discovery. Eight years later, they are international movie stars playing 20-something hotheads who are dazzled and corrupted by fame.

Questions arise. Questions such as "Is this art imitating life?" and "How come their second outing together, nearly a decade into their mainstream film careers, is of lower caliber than their first?"

"Rudo y Cursi," enjoyable but forgettable, doesn't come close to the hot-blooded brilliance of "Y Tu Mamá También," which launched the Mexican actors to global renown in 2001.

Bernal and Luna are brothers Tato and Beto, two banana farmers in southern Mexico whose only escape from agrarian toil is soccer. As luck would have it, they are scouted by a sports agent 10 minutes into the movie. The more talented but less passionate one wins out, and he nails a spot on a professional team. The other sets his own course for the pros.

"Rudo y Cursi" -- which translates to "rough and corny," the top traits of each brother -- has little to do with soccer and much to say about the perversion of young talent in the name of moneymaking.

If there's one thing Luna and Bernal recapture from their first movie together, it's chemistry. In "Y Tu Mamá También," they played friends at odds. In "Rudo y Cursi," they play brothers at odds. They know each other's rhythms.

The simple plot is decorated with fast camera work, saturated colors and a constant soundtrack, which is what we've come to expect from Alfonso Cuarón ("Children of Men"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and Alejandro González Iñárritu ("Babel"). This is the first movie released under the trio's new production company, Cha Cha Cha, and Cuaron's younger brother Carlos is in the director's chair for his first feature. It's a competent debut, skilled but shallow.

This is not a sports movie. But for lovers of Luna and Bernal, especially Luna and Bernal together, "Rudo y Cursi" will be a quick, harmless, caffeinated booster shot until their next collaboration.

-- Dan Zak

Rudo y Cursi R, 103 minutes Contains pervasive language, sexual content and brief drug use. In Spanish with English subtitles. Area theaters.


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