As a slab of gleaming, irony-free entertainment for undemanding teens, Fernando Gonzalez Molina's "I Want You" is just fine.

As a slab of gleaming, irony-free entertainment for undemanding teens, Fernando Gonzalez Molina’s “I Want You” is just fine. A sequel to the helmer’s “Three Steps Above Heaven,” this latest adaptation of a Federico Moccia novel similarly features sex, violence, motorcycles and eye-catching visuals aplenty. But while it’s superficially about teen rebellion, this is actually a conservative, unchallenging love story build around crowdpleasing stereotypes dating back to the James Dean era. Pic took more than €4 million ($5 million) its first weekend, with Italian and Latin American territories most likely to feel the desire offshore.

Hache (Mario Casas) returns to Spain after two years in London, his heart still broken by the death of his best friend, Pollo (Alvaro Cervantes), and by having loved and lost Babi (Maria Valverde), in the first film. The big question for Spanish auds this time is: Will Hache and Babi get back together?

When his beloved motorcycle gets knocked over by Gin (Clara Lago), a wild-child photographer, singer and dancer, Hache is immediately smitten, though he still spends a lot of time loitering near Babi’s home, as the script contrives to keep them separate for most of the picture. Hache also sometimes communes with Pollo’s ghost, who lectures him about how times change. Subplots include a mean-spirited, moralizing little tale about Babi’s little sister, Daniela (Nerea Camacho), getting pregnant.

The script is effectively a melodrama, with typical teen confusions inflated to epic proportions and then backed with epic music (much of it sounding sub-U2) and epic, show-offy visuals: One sex scene takes place in silhouette on a dangerous ledge high above a stunning, digitally enhanced Barcelona skyline.

However, the dialogue’s efforts to sound grandiose end up merely hackneyed. “I hate guys like you,” Gin tells Hache. “What, irresistible ones?” he replies, a line that only someone like famously weedy Brit thesp Charles Hawtrey could deliver effectively. Such nonsense does little for the chemistry between Hache and Gin, especially as it’s hard to see why a smart girl like her would even get off her bike for a lunk like him. But unlike the earlier pic, this one does play a bit with gender expectations, and the independent, no-nonsense and ambitious Gin is the real heart of things, leaving the prim and proper Babi looking rather dull.

Casas brings new depth and a newly melancholy air to the role of a soulful-eyed, suffering stallion. His superb physique, often clad in a Stooges T-shirt, is fully exploited, and interestingly suggests that Hache is always about to explode into violence; sex with him invariably involves being lifted off the ground. Music, when it moves away from a couple of attractive ballads by Lago and the aforementioned U2 ripoffs, is bland orchestral fare. Irene Blecua’s editing is superb.

I Want You

Spain

Production

A Warner Bros. release of a Zeta Cinema, Antena 3 Films, Cangrejo Films y Globomedia Cine production in association with Antena 3, La Sexta. (Imagina Intl. Sales, Madrid.) Produced by Francisco Ramos, Mercedes Gamero, Daniel Ecija, Alex Pina. Directed by Fernando Gonzalez Molina. Screenplay, Ramon Salazar, based on the novel by Federico Moccia.

Crew

Camera (color), Xavi Gimenez; editor, Irene Blecua; music, Manel Santiesteban; art director, Patrick Salvador; set decorator, Eva Torres; costume designer, Loles Garcia; sound (Dolby Digital), Dani Fontrodona; supervising sound editor, Alvaro Lopez-Arregui; assistant director, Fernando Trullols; casting, Luis San Narciso, Tonucha Vidal, Andres Cuenca. Reviewed at Cines Conde Duque Alberto Aguilera, Madrid, June 28, 2012. Running time: 124 MIN.

With

Mario Casas, Maria Valverde, Clara Lago, Alvaro Cervantes, Marina Salas, Nerea Camacho, Carme Elias. (Spanish dialogue)

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