By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated September 05, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Attractive, carefree heterosexual Spanish lovelies cheat on one another in sunny Madrid and then sing about it in The Other Side of the Bed. Paula tells her boyfriend, Pedro, she’s leaving him for another man. Pedro cries to his best friend, Javier, and Javier’s girlfriend, Sonia (Paz Vega, the most exportable of the lot after ”Talk to Her”). What Pedro and Sonia don’t know is that Javier is that other man.

Pardon our French! — or in this case, our Spanish! Director Emilio Martínez-Lázaro’s droopy, retro European sex farce (a big box office hit in Spain and the recipient of a bunch of Goya award nominations) may borrow its musical ideas from ”The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” But the lemon-drop-colored palette and soap-opera-colored conversation about sex owes a lot — too much — to Pedro Almodóvar’s influential, and far more original, concoctions of style and pathos: While we can agree, for the sake of Iberian-American cinematic friendship, to go along with the whole simplified 1960s swinger premise and ”The Jackie Gleason Show” choreography, we can also long for the comparatively nuanced 1990s swinger premise of ”Friends.”

Because they’re 21st-century boulevardiers, the foursome (and various subcharacters) make faux-enlightened jokes about gay men and lesbians and repeatedly assure one another that ”we’re all bisexual.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, we counter, wanting more in the new millennium — and from the Sundance Channel’s new theatrical distribution division — than this old square dance.