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Mothers command attention in gay-marriage comedy 'Queens'

It's called "Queens" and, no, silly, it's not about six gay men who want to get married. It's about their mothers. And this being a Spanish comedy of the lowest Almodovar-ian order, the moms are a lot more flamboyant than their sons.

For the most part, they're played by the Spanish film industry's first ladies -- among them Carmen Maura, Marisa Paredes, Veronica Forqué, and Mercedes Sampietro -- and their participation is understandable. Set in Madrid, ``Queens" was made not long after the announcement last year that gay Spaniards could tie the knot. To be part of this rhythmless film is to stand behind the passing of the law. Who could argue with that?

What is problematic is the lost sheepdog. Just in time for the 20-couple ceremony, Oscar's Argentine mother, Ofelia (Betiana Blum), brought that shaggy pet with her from Buenos Aires, and his fed-up partner, Miguel (Unax Ugalde), intentionally ditches it one day. The pooch roams the streets intruding, with uncanny timing, on the lives of just about everybody else in the film. It's a terrible device in a movie that's already shamelessly over-reliant on cuteness and coincidence -- a robbery at gunpoint, news of affairs, spying, the revelation that Ofelia plans to stay for longer than three weeks.

Sampietro plays the conservative judge who, much to the disappointment of her son (Gustavo Salmerón), had planned to be out of town during the ceremony. But then she's required to officiate. And what of her boy, Hugo? He's come down with a mild case of heterosexuality. His boyfriend's mother (Forqué) will tell you all about it. In his defense, she happens to be a sex addict.

Alas, all the sex in the movie is straight. So is all the convincing love. And the movie's best performances are from the actors playing straight men: Jorge Perugorría plays the cook leading a work stoppage at the hotel Maura's character runs; and Lluís Homar plays a gardener on the verge of an affair with his movie star boss (Paredes). What gives? The men playing the offspring are all otherwise charismatic young stars.

The director Manuel Gómez Pereira, who wrote the film with Yolanda García Serrano and Joaquín Oristrell, pays dutiful congratulations to gay marriage. But it feels like he just plucked the men themselves from atop a wedding cake and stuck them in his movie, where for the most part they stand decoratively around and watch the women make suds from all this soap. The corny semi-animated opening sequence even has its legendary female stars sashay toward the camera while the colors of the rainbow flag go nuts all around them.

It doesn't mean they're gay (they're not). It does, however, guarantee that ``Queens" will be made part of the introductory materials for new members of PFLAG. Of course, the movie accidentally makes you think there should be a support group for gay men whose parents steal scenes. All about my mother, indeed.

Wesley Morris can reached at

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