Considering it is a Spanish-language film, Rudo And Cursi hasn't wanted for English-language hype. Helmed by Alfonso Cuaron's brother Carlos, it sees Y Tu Mama Tambien's Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna reunited and although Carlos co-wrote Y Tu Mama with Alfonso, Rudo And Cursi is in a different ball park altogether.

Where the former relied on a sultry and sexy subtext to move its narrative along, with moments of humour and something of a preoccupation with death, Rudo And Cursi is a much more broad comedic affair. Bernal and Luna are Tato and Beto - two football-playing working-class brothers, each constantly trying to put one over the other. Beto is nicknamed Rudo (Spanish slang for tough or loutish) thanks to his confrontational style both on and off the football pitch, while his softer sibling Tato has picked up the moniker Cursi (Spanish slang for cheesy or tacky) because of his over-the-top ball play and lack of social finesse.

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The pair work side by side at a banana plantation, while playing for their local footy team. Tato dreams of a pop career every bit as cheesy as his nickname, while Beto has aspirations to become a top footballer. The pinnacle they are both aiming for, however, is to build their mum (Dolores Heredia) a big house on the beach. A chance encounter with a football scout further fuels their rivalry when they are told he will only select one of them for the big time. To Beto's consternation, it is wannabe Pop Idol Tato who is plucked from obscurity and who soon becomes the top scorer for his club. It isn't long, however, before fortune smiles on Beto, too, and he is catapulted to stardom as a goalkeeper who lets nothing past him. The cash that comes with the football fame threatens to derail them both, however, as Tato can't resist the call of the WAGs, while Beto has a love affair with something even more threatening to his family - gambling.

Bernal and Luna bring the same casual and endearing spontaneity they showed in Y Tu Mama Tambien to the fore again here. Even when at their most obnoxious or ridiculous - such as in a particularly hilarious music video segment which sees Bernal sing I Want You To Want Me - they are never less than human and their brotherly rough and tumble is also convincing. The action on the pitch is entertaining and convincing, and although you sense there will be an inevitable 'big game' showdown, Cuaron has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to stop this falling into a predictable rut.

Ultimately, it is the personal lives - and the actors - that really shine through. And it is the performances of Bernal and Luna that stick in the memory, even as the adrenaline rush of the romp begins to fade.

Reviewed on: 10 Apr 2009
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Two siblings rival each other inside the world of professional football.
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