Sony // 2009 // 102 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 24th, 2009
From producers Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Guillermo del Toro comes a vibrant Mexican soccer comedy that follows two brothers on their quest to fulfill their biggest dreams. Alas, what they fail to realize is that reaching an ambitious goal in life is not always as easy as it seems...
Rudo y Cursi introduces us to Tato (Gael García Bernal, The Motorcycle Diaries) and Beto (Diego Luna, Milk), two brothers who earn a living at a banana plantation in a small Mexican village until a stranded talent scout (Guillermo Francella) discovers their soccer skills and offers them a big, shiny career in the big city.
Excited to leave their boring existence behind and explore new opportunities, Tato and Beto quickly embark on a new adventure that will change things forever and bring them a step closer to the life they've always wanted. Unfortunately, none of them is ready to deal with the consequences of sudden success.
Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed Carlos Cuarón's Rudo y Cursi. It didn't exactly turn out to be what I expected, but I would be lying if I told you I didn't have a good time watching this film. This may not be a comedy that appeals to mainstream audiences, but it provides a broad, accessible theme, giving viewers the opportunity to come up with their own interpretations. Essentially, Rudo y Cursi is a film about fate, fame, fortune, rivalry, and brotherhood. While I'm at it, it's also about rising to the top and hitting rock bottom. Throw in a dose of social commentary, and you've got a film with an interesting meaning and intriguing characters learning a valuable lesson.
So far I've referred to the film as a comedy, but thinking about it closely, it also features many elements of a dark drama. Rudo y Cursi carries delicious humor when it comes to the dialogue between Tato and Beto, but occasionally, the film steps into more depressing territory, especially in terms of what happens to these characters as the story progresses. I also applaud Cuarón for creating a film that ends in a way you wouldn't expect a traditional film of this genre to end. Of course, I'll keep this review spoiler free, but the unpredictable conclusion to the story of these two brothers is part of the movie's charm and message.
Also, don't watch Rudo y Cursi for the soccer. Cuarón decided to include very little action on the field, and you barely get to see Tato and Beto kicking the ball. It may put off some viewers, but I found this choice to be quite interesting, especially because it keeps the focus on the characters at all times. Okay, we do get to see one or two crucial soccer scenes that play an important role on how the story will progress, but even in these moments, the relationship between the leads remains of greater importance than which team will win the game.
In fact, the personalities of Tato and Beto, along with strong performances by Bernal and Luna, are the film's best asset. Both actors already showed they're perfectly capable of sharing the screen in the 2001 hit Y tu mamá también, and they equally shine as two clueless brothers fighting their way across a hectic world that can easily push them over the edge in an instant. Bernal and Luna spend most of the time engaging in witty arguments, and they share a solid enough chemistry to come across naturally as a pair of brothers who've always competed against each other.
Personally, I preferred Bernal's character (and performance) to Luna's. As Tato, who's also known as Cursi (which means corny) in the story, Bernal hits all the right notes, making it a pleasure to watch him take on the role of a guy who's good at soccer but really dreams of a musical career. Scenes of him singing a cover version of Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me" are priceless. That said, Luna is a great co-star, and although this performance as Beto (who's also known as Rudo, the tough one) isn't as memorable as his superb effort in Milk, he injects the film with plenty of energy.
On Blu-ray, Rudo y Cursi looks and sounds great. The TrueHD 5.1 sound transfer is surprisingly flawless, and the 1.78:1 video transfer boasts a clean, sharp image quality with strong colors. Select scenes do look a tad grainy at times, but it's not a major issue. Other than that, from a technical point of view, this is a great high-definition experience.
You'll also find a bunch of informative special features on this disc. Besides a highly interesting 26-minute behind-the-scenes look, the bonus material also includes six deleted scenes, three music videos, and a truly engaging Q&A session with Cuarón, Bernal, and Luna. This feature doesn't only provide a more detailed look into the movie, but it also offers viewers an insight into who these three people are and how they handle their jobs in the film industry. Also included is a subtitled feature commentary with Cuarón, Bernal, and Luna; although it's funny to listen to for a while because they all goof around most of the time, it doesn't provide as many details as you would expect.
Rudo y Cursi is a funny, fast-paced film I found very easy to enjoy. It's not without flaws, but it's an entertaining film I can only recommend, especially on Blu-ray.
Review content copyright © 2009 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.00:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Videos