Sequels are a curious and fickle species, particularly the breed that has come to most prominence in the last few years: the legacy followup. Always ready to cannibalise when they need to, film producers seem intent on wrenching us back into the past. Nostalgia is now their business, and business is booming.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but it has been practised enough now to expose a science: things go according to plan and sequels feel warranted only when they are truly needed. If they are not – if the candles are burned, the well is dry, the story is complete, and the characters are done – the result is a raised eyebrow, a pair of shrugged shoulders, and the risk of a glaring scratch upon the reputation of once great and, crucially, standalone, movies.
The Queen of Spain, a legacy sequel to 1998’s The Girl of Your Dreams, has to pose this question to start its engine: is this needed? Unfortunately, the answer is a resolute “no”. The characters were enjoyable enough company in their first outing but none, except perhaps Cruz’s Macarena Granada, would make your cinematic Christmas card list. This film would need to be exceptional to quell the inevitable “why?”s, but it doesn’t even manage to reach the highs of its older sister.
The Queen of Spain fails to attain royal status. The commentary on Franco is mostly left unsaid, the caper is overwhelmed by subplot tendrils, and the only real jewel in its fading crown remains Penélope Cruz – the spotlight that bathes her is always lime-green. Fernando Trueba and his reassembled cast and crew clearly have affection for these characters and the apparent mileage we are told they still have. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves – everyone except the film’s audience.
CAST: Penélope Cruz, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin
DIRECTOR: Fernando Trueba
WRITERS: Fernando Trueba, David Trueba, Rafael Azcona, Carlos Lopez, Manuel Angel Egea
SYNOPSIS: The misadventures of a Spanish crew during the filming of an American movie in 1950s Spain.