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Bright colors, sassy opening credits, women who are strong but a little loony—Queens sure does look like the work of Pedro Almodóvar. But it doesn’t take long to realize it’s the product of yet another imitator: Spanish director and co-writer Manuel Gómez Pereira wraps the comedy about five mothers and their gay sons’ impending nuptials like a sparkly wedding gift yet delivers the equivalent of a cheap toaster.
With Yolanda García Serrano and Joaquín Oristrell sharing script duties, Queens takes place over one weekend, building to Spain’s first mass gay wedding, in which 20 couples will participate. The writers go for sitcom-broad humor, with chaos ruling as the film follows three of those couples, though the men are less important to the story than their parents are. We first meet the flighty Nuria (Veronica Forqué), mother of Narciso (Paco León), who compulsively sleeps with men she’s just met and is constantly calling her shrink. Then there’s Magda (Carmen Maura, an Almodóvar regular), mom of the uptight Miguel (Unax Ugalde) and owner of the hotel where the event (and an employee uprising) is taking place. Ofelia (Betiana Blum) is the ditzy mother of Miguel’s partner, Oscar (Daniel Hendler), and refuses to put her giant fluffy dog in a kennel despite the hotel’s no-pets policy. Narciso’s partner, Hugo (Gustavo Salmerón), is trying to cope with the bitterness of his mom, Helena (Mercedes Sampietro), a judge who ends up having to perform the ceremony. And then there’s Reyes (Marisa Paredes), an arrogant actress who spits venom at her gardener, Jacinto (Lluís Homar), whose son Jonas (Hugo Silva) is marrying her son Rafa (Raúl Jiménez).
If you’re confused, the movie won’t make anything much clearer. With nearly all of the men dark and handsome, it’s difficult to keep them, um, straight, especially with a couple of dads thrown in the mix; in general, there are just too many damn characters. Pereira further muddles things by having Queens occasionally move back and forth in time. And subplots including Ofelia’s lost dog—which, conveniently, roams exclusively and extensively among the paths of Pereira’s gay world—and a strike by Magda’s raise-demanding kitchen employees may round out a few roles, but considering the flatness of the rest of the characters, the distraction is hardly worth it.
Except for Salmerón’s Hugo—who must deal with his cold mother, a father who asks him how he knows he doesn’t like women if he’s never slept with one, and later developments that threaten to disintegrate his relationship—the guys are mere props. (Ugalde’s hotheaded Miguel, forever angry about something, is too over-the-top to be believed.) Stronger acting, if only by default, comes from the women, who have much more to work with. Standouts include Forqué, Blum, and the always-magnetic Maura, who must balance their characters’ childishness with a bit of motherly sense. Pereira also makes sure they look gorgeous—perfect hair, curve-hugging clothes—among the film’s Madrid setting, which contrasts the chic hotel with some old-world beauty. But despite the eye candy, Queens is little more than not-terribly-funny froth, the kind in which disasters pile on but a tidy ending is sure to come. Unlike Almodóvar, Pereira hasn’t seemed to grasp that complexity doesn’t require convolution.
Another Pedro Ripoff—any one of them over the last 20-some years—can’t be worse, however, than Another Gay Movie. Writer-director Todd Stephens, along with story helper Tim Kaltenecker, set out to make a Porky’s/American Pie parody in the vein of Scary Movie or its obvious namesake, Not Another Teen Movie. Therefore, there are bodily fluids. And finger-sniffing. And lines such as, “I can’t believe I almost sucked my own dad’s dick.” And all of the above are repeated, it seems, every five minutes, making the movie’s 92 total one long, disgusting ride.
After Nancy Sinatra’s bouncy opening theme song, “Another Gay Sunshine Day,” the nosedive is swift. Openly gay friends Andy (Michael Carbonaro), Jarod (Jonathan Chase), Griff (Mitch Morris), and Nico (Jonah Blechman) are graduating from San Torum High School and are determined to “do the big A” before summer’s up. Andy, the bland Jason Biggs character of the group, fantasizes about his history teacher, Mr. Puckov (Graham Norton, with a terrible German accent), and suffers from overinvolved parents who’ll burst into his room while he’s, say, angling a cucumber up his ass. Griff is the nerd with a big package. Jarod is the jock with the opposite problem—and don’t think there isn’t a scene where he tries to fix it. And Nico, with his half-platinum hair, slack wrists, and penchant for pink, has a (literally) blind girlfriend who shows up occasionally, though his post-grad goal is to give up his “booty virginity” to Richard Hatch. Who plays himself. And shows his wang.
There are a lot of wangs in the unrated Another Gay Movie, along with out-in-the-open masturbation, full-on balling, and a locker-room dude who first drops the soap and then…ugh, never mind. The sights, however, aren’t nearly as nasty as the accompanying sounds, whether the pronounced and ever-present squishing noises or the dialogue itself: One 40-year-old-looking, mulleted lesbian student (Ashlie Atkinson) counsels the boys that sex can be messy, what with “penis drippings, ill-timed queefs, and 31 flavors of genital cheese!” Stephens makes it clear that toilet humor needn’t be exclusive to dimwitted straight movies.
The film, and it’s hard to admit this, does have rare moments of cleverness, such as the name of the teens’ school—if you don’t get it, read more Savage Love—and Andy’s mother, played by drag queen Lypsinka (née John Epperson) with a slight nod to Joan Crawford. But the story itself is a mess, with implausible developments, no sense of time passing, and not one conversation that doesn’t have to do with sex. And forget about the acting—it’s all wannabe camp. After all the cringing and wincing, the last scene Another Gay Movie assaults you with is the scariest one: The characters are celebrating the summer gone by when they look toward the camera and toast, “To the sequel!”CP