Penelope Cruz and The Girl of Your Dreams' gang are back — but, sadly, the shenanigans in writer-director Fernando Trueba's sequel, The Queen of Spain, seem as if they were more fun to film than to watch. Reprising her 1998 role as Macarena Granada, Cruz is luminous as an actress returning to 1950s Spain after becoming a Hollywood star. Years after director Blas Fontiveros (Antonio Resines) propelled her to fame, Granada's playing Queen Isabella in a big-budget American film featuring a cast filled out by her raucous Dreams cohorts. Fontiveros, meanwhile, has emerged from hiding after doing time in a concentration camp. But before long, he's sent off to perform forced labor for Franco, and the boisterous crew members attempt high-stakes hijinks to rescue their once-fearless leader.
While Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin fill out small supporting roles (as a hammy, predatory leading man and a Commie screenwriter, respectively), a Princess Bride reunion this isn't. In fact, it's hard to place The Queen at all. Is it a serious social critique of Franco's dictatorship? A silly escape flick? A paean to the Golden Age of celluloid? Or is it a just-because reunion?
The Queen may be a treat for those familiar with Dreams, but this uneven film glosses over too much — and runs too long. Sumptuous production and costume design coupled with Jose Luis Alcaine's expert cinematography make it a feast for the eyes … but there's not much more substance.
Fernando TruebaPenélope Cruz, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, J.A. Bayona, Santiago Segura, Javier Cámara, Clive Revill, Jorge Sanz, Loles León, Aida FolchFernando TruebMyriad Pictures