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By Scott Knopf | March 30, 2009

Eight years following the release of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001), actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna team up once again, this time to tell the story of two brothers who dream to make it big as soccer players. The oldest brother, Beto (Luna) supports his wife and children working on a banana farm. He doesn’t listen when people tell him he’s too old to be a superstar goalie. Toto (Bernal), the younger brother, works alongside Beto and constantly talks about his future as a singer even though he’s a much better ball player than he is a vocalist. When fate throws them a lucky hand, the two small town hicks end up in Mexico City playing soccer for opposing teams. What follows from there is a formulaic rise-and-fall-from-fame story with a number of strong points but an equally high number of flaws and clichés.

“Rudo y Cursi” is quite a different film for all the parties involved, especially Bernal. Known for his edgier roles in such films as “Amores Perros” (2000), “El Crimen del Padre Amaro,” (2002), and “Bad Education” (2004), the actor takes a break and enjoys a light-hearted comedy that would appear to be for families if only there weren’t the sex scenes and b*****b jokes. While there aren’t dog fights, orgies, or botched abortions in “Rudo y Cursi,” there are shower room hijinks, high stakes poker, and a music video comparable to the only memorable part of “Music and Lyrics” (2007). As for the film’s lackluster parts, it’s hard not to ignore them when you realize how much fun everyone involved in this production had. Yes, the film is formulaic, predictable, and relies on beaten-to-death clichés. However, all of this isn’t quite enough to make “Rudo y Cursi” a “bad film.”

What Cuarón and friends have done is made a cute genre film. What’s the harm in that? I’m sure Bernal will be back to his edgy roots soon enough. Maybe he’ll make a movie about a methamphetamine-addicted factory worker who is forced to turn to prostitution after a Tejano drug lord kills his younger brother, an altar boy, during a gun fight at early morning mass. For now, we’ve got “Rudo y Cursi,” an enjoyable comedy about two brothers who like to play futbol.

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