David Ansen on "Rudo y Cursi"

The renaissance in Mexican movies is a fraternal affair. The movement's biggest stars—Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mamá También"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu ("Amores Perros")—are all pals, much like that band of brothers (Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola) behind American cinema's 1970s "golden age." Cuarón, del Toro and Iñárritu are all listed as producers of the latest Mexican delight, "Rudo y Cursi," which is directed by Cuarón's actual brother Carlos, and stars "Y Tu Mamá's" irresistible duo, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna—who have been best friends since they were 9 years old. It's definitely a family affair.

Not coincidentally, "Rudo y Cursi" is the story of half-brothers, two hicks from the country whose skills at soccer are spotted by a savvy talent scout, who brings them to Mexico City where fame, fortune and beautiful women fall on them like fruit from the trees. Inevitably, the fruit rots, and these slumdog millionaires learn bittersweet lessons about the world. It's an old story, but Cuarón's storytelling is juicy and ribald. Bernal's character is nicknamed "Cursi" ("corny"). Loose and gullible, he's a phenomenal scorer on the field, but he dreams of a singing career, blissfully unaware of his minimal talent. Luna's character, "Rudo" ("tough"), is pure aggression: a goalie who plays rough, parties hard and gambles on everything, whether the money is his own, his brother's or his wife's.

Hilarious, satirical and melancholy, "Rudo y Cursi" may not go as deep as "Y Tu Mamá También," but it has a similar vivacity. It turns this tale of brotherly bonds and sibling rivalry—a veiled allegory of the Cuarón boys themselves?—into one of the year's most memorable offerings.

David Ansen on "Rudo y Cursi" | U.S.