“The House of Flowers: The Movie,” might have been a sequel that’s a fun introduction to the ground-breaking Netflix series about a big, affluent and very dysfunctional Mexico City family that owns a flower shop and a gay cabaret both named “The House of Flowers (La casa de las flores).”
Or it could have been a fond send-off, with series creator (and “Movie” writer-director) Manolo Caro tying up loose ends, unleashing the members of the de La Mora clan on their foes, rivals, ex-lovers and hapless bystanders one last sentimental time.
It doesn’t quite manage either, although the latter was more Caro’s aim.
The film is an exceptionally messy and character-cluttered rush with few laughs among its various players’ reprising their Greatest (Character Trait) Hits. The squishy closing credits coda feels like an apology, a promise or a threat, depending on how you take the preceding movie.
“Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
That’s a John Lennon quote made famous by “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” and it fits the finale if you’re of a mind that Caro will make MORE sequels. But it doesn’t do justice to the Almodóvar-does-a-telenovela gender-bending spoof that Caro cooked up for three seasons on Netflix.
The hook here is that beloved nanny/housekeeper Delia (Norma Angélica) is dying, and only Paulina de la Mora (Cecilia Suárez) knows. But she will keep Delia’s secret and somehow find a way to fulfill Delia’s dying wish, that a “treasure” she left buried in the walls of the de la Mora mansion, which they’ve now sold, be recovered.
For that Paulina will need the help of pretty and “experienced” sister Elena (Aislinn Derbez) and hapless and gay brother Julián (Dario Yazbek Bernal) and a parade of other family members, none of whom are supposed to know Delia’s health.
And they’ll need the help of “the girls,” the quartet of muscular transgender employees/friends who know how to get a dirty job done — in this case, knocking a hole in a wall.
Then there’s the matter of proving who killed their beloved Patricio (Christian Chávez). They’ll trick the suspect into confession. They’ll manage that as they’re also breaking in and fetching that “treasure.”
This caper will be a part of this one long evening where they crack the “Mission: Impossible” level security in their former house, elude guards who know the infamous family on sight, infiltrate and half-wreck a Jewish wedding, interrupting a cheating groom mid-coitus and later interfere with a younger member of the clan’s “first time.”
Soap operatic confrontations mix with low farce predicaments, the family dynamic is renewed — the can-do sister, the screw-up brother, the something-in-between other sister. There’s a pause for a song or two, one warbled from the grave.
As bizarre and frenetic as it all is, the comedy isn’t played broadly. Well, not THAT broadly.
“Everyone get in the closet,” (in Spanish with English subtitles). “What? AGAIN?”
It’s not funny enough to lure new viewers to the still-streaming series (2018-2020), although it gives you hints about what made it funny and why it was a hit.
“Why do rich people in Mexico have the worst taste?” Paulina wonders, peeking in a window of the house THEY used to over-decorate, now over-decorated by another. “Your fly is undone” is the extreme extreme in the comedy.
One gets the impression Caro loves the series and the characters, but that he’s done with them. So he’ll take Netflix’s money, pay the cast and let most everybody take one more bow.
He just didn’t wrangle a script that does any of them or his creation justice.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, sex, profanity
Cast Cecilia Suárez, Aislinn Derbez, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Norma Angélica, David Ostrosky, Isabel Burr and Christian Chávez
Credits: Scripted and directed by Manolo Caro. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:28