There's so much going on in "Rudo y Cursi" that it feels like a half-dozen movies in one.
Carlos Cuaron, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "Y Tu Mama También," makes his directorial debut with this easygoing sports movie/family drama/musical comedy/crime story. "Tu Mama" bosom buddies Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna reunite as squabbling half-brothers who work on a banana plantation while dreaming of making it big as soccer stars.
When fate strands a fútbol talent scout in their village, he makes their pipe dreams come true. Bernal, a lovable goofball kicker, is an overnight sensation with a side career as a singer (in hilariously cheesy music videos). Luna, the short-tempered goalie on a rival team, juggles his responsibilities to his wife and kids back in the sticks against the temptations of high life in the big city. Both are broad, boyish comic caricatures handed the trappings of success without the slightest idea of how to proceed.
Like lots of suddenly prosperous sports stars, the dimwit brothers vow to build their widowed mother a mansion. Of course, it's not that simple. Easy money proves hard to hold onto, pop stardom is fleeting and the most glittery supermodel girlfriend may not have a heart of gold.
While bad things happen to our Candide-like antiheroes, this is not a gloomy film. Cuaron mines suffering and pessimism for subversive comedy. His script draws a parallel between the soccer world, where bribery determines which players make the cut, and the sleazy practices of Wonderlife, the multilevel distributor of diet supplements where Luna's striving wife hopes to build a career. The satire is pointed and a bit heartbreaking, softened by the evident sympathy Cuaron feels for the characters.
The unforced moral of the story depends on how you perceive success. True, it's only when a big-bellied narco gangster marries into the family that Mama gets her dream home. In material terms, our dopey protagonists walk away losers. But for all their bickering, their relationship has matured into something richer and more rewarding. It's a happy-enough ending.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186