| Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, the two stars from “Y Tu Mama Tambien” are reunited as stepbrothers in rural Mexico who get the chance to make it big in professional soccer.
The black-mustached Beto (Bernal) is nicknamed Rudo (roughly translated as tough) because of his hot-tempered personality and brutal ways on the field. He is the goalkeeper and the only player who is allowed to use his hands to stop the ball.
His quick reflexes make the impenetrable net appear to be a brick wall. The clean-cut Tato (Luna) is introspective and artistic. He becomes a prolific goal-scoring striker and is dubbed Cursi (which is slang for the mushy corniness of an overly romantic person).
Tato would rather be a singer than a soccer player. The joke is that he has a terrible voice which is exhibited in a music video. Both boys want to make enough money so that they can afford to build a dream house for their mother.
They have their weaknesses which tarnish their meteoric rise from obscurity to the fame of stardom. Beto is a self-destructive, compulsive gambler. He bets on cock fights, horse racing and high-stakes poker.
Tato is susceptible to trophy women. A television game show celebrity, Maya (Jessica Mas), captures his heart and lulls him into a false sense of security.
The movie is narrated by a sleazy sports agent named Baton (Guillermo Francella who resembles Sonny Bono), who accidentally discovered these hicks from the sticks (actually a banana plantation) playing for their village team. He stumbles across this sleepy town when his red convertible sports car incurs a flat tire.
Baton’s key observations compare the game of soccer with life in general. This marks the directorial debut of Carlos Cuaron (younger brother of Oscar-nominated Alfonso from “Children of Men” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) who also wrote the screenplay.
It doesn’t follow your typical sports movie formula. The fun is in the journey in this rags-to-riches-to rags comedy. There is very little in the way of soccer action outside of two crucial penalty kicks. Instead, Cuaron wisely shows only reactions of the spectators to what allegedly happens on the playing field. Luna and Bernal have terrific camaraderie with a gleaming form of screen charisma.
They bring home the pent-up rage and frustration of a sibling rivalry. Immediate comparisons can be made to the competitive tennis matches between Serena and Venus Williams. The movie has one of the best sex scenes of the year.
Mas exposes her luscious body and deserves the label of heartbreaking goddess. This movie is strictly for mature audiences due to its pervasive vulgar language and fraternity-style hazing sequences in the locker room showers. The musical score has an ear-pleasing salsa beat.
The cinematography ranks at the top of the class. Mexico City shares the spotlight with the acting ensemble as a big bad scary monster where dreams are either realized or shattered by individuals from small town roots. The movie describes soccer (referred to as futbol everywhere but in the U.S.A.) as the most beautiful game in the world.
This movie was a huge hit in Mexico where it ranks as one of the top 5 all-time in gross receipts. The dialogue is in Spanish with short, easy-to-read English subtitles.
Now playing exclusively at the Tivoli, AMC Studio 30 and Cinemark Merriam 20.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"