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Originally published Friday, September 29, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Nice try, but Almodóvar rules

With gay marriage legalized and grabbing headlines in Spain, it was probably inevitable that a Pedro Almodóvar wannabe would turn out a comedy inspired by last year's mass wedding of same-sex Spanish couples.

Movie review 2 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Queens" ("Reinas"), with Carmen Maura, Veronica Forque. Directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira, from a screenplay by Pereira, Joaquin Oristrell and Yolanda Garcia Serrano. 107 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, language and brief nudity. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.

Unfortunately, "Queens" focuses less on the men getting married than it does on their mothers, most of them predictable divas. A nymphomaniac sleeps with her son's male lover. A homophobic judge is required to marry her son and his boyfriend. A wealthy woman falls for her gardener, who has a tangled relationship with his son, scheduled to wed her son.

The presence of several Almodóvar actresses and a few Almodóvar in-jokes merely call attention to his absence. The frantic artificiality of the script rarely allows the characters to breathe. This is dinner-theater farce, featherweight and juiceless.

Veronica Forque giggles sweetly through her silly sex-addict role, and Hugo Silva and Raul Garcia generate some chemistry as a couple who grew up together. But even the climactic production number, obviously designed to wow, seems like an afterthought.

— John Hartl

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