I’m So Excited
Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar
English with Spanish subtitles
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva,
Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Laya Martí, Paz Vega, Blanca Suárez, Susi Sanchez
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content and drug use
Running time: 95 minutes
Sex on a plane, sex in the air, and lots and lots more air-born sex: mostly man-on-man, but man-woman too. Drugs too, uppers and downers, plus those mescaline-laced Valencia cocktails!
Pedro Almodovar’s movie career began right after Franco’s career ended and Spain’s openly gay director remembers those Valencia cocktails fondly. They’re certainly a leading plot point in his latest movie, if ‘plot’ is the word to use.
Cheesy dance numbers alternate with sex and cocktails, and enough lip-synching of old pop songs to sink an early John Waters comedy. With the eccentric behavior of flight staff included (one has a portable altar), this movie is not without its passing pleasures.
To no avail, sadly! It’s clear that Spain’s high queen of kitsch has been channeling a gay version of that spoof hit of the late 70s, Airplane! But his latest farce isn’t as funny as that 1980 satire. In fact, it’s a bit of fizzle.
So let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and read it as entertaining fable. Those of us who like Almodovar’s aesthetic in all its florid vulgarity still have something to enjoy here and there – crazy-retro set and costume designs, a dose of Pointer Sisters pop. It’s just not his best effort.
Signs are the project took a long time to get off the ground, too. But like the airplane, the movie never stops flying in circles. The most striking turn is by the innocent psychic, who predicts doom to the flight staff and passengers, then manages to deflower herself at 40,000 feet.
Perhaps the real star of this romp is the Spanish economy, whose collapse obliged Almodovar to film on one set with a mere day or two of Madrid location shoots. The rest was all filmed on a turquoise-cherry studio set.
And to really earn his R rating for this tale of debauchery in Business Class, he’s added gay blowjobs for married pilots facing equipment crisis in the cockpit. Not the pilots, we must add, – the plane suffers from a dysfunctional undercarriage and faulty equipment.
Released from civilized behavior by the crew’s emergency search for a runway, any runway, these passengers promptly enlist in the Mile High Club. Played by veterans of Almodovar’s past hits, like Antonio de la Torre and Blanca Suarez, they try to act their chops off.
It’s also a return to the outrageous spoofs of his youth, with a sentimental cameo of his starriest stars, Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz as a kickstart. The famous ones appear briefly as a baggage handler and checker respectively. They mishandle the job before take-off and cause the malfunction.
Instead of Mexico City, the passengers on Peninsula Flight 2549—newlyweds, a Don Juan with no conscience, a psychic soothsayer, a dominatrix, a gossip journalist, a financier, and a shady Mexican—are going nowhere, not even Toledo. Economy Class has been drugged into narcosis all this while, the first clue this might indeed be a political commentary rather than a mere romp.
Unless we read it as a parable of human frailty, this is also Almodovar’s silliest and most trivial effort to date. But it follows extravagant successes like “Talk To Her,” “Bad Education,” and “The Skin I Live In,” all of which we’re still talking about and are still open to fascinating debate.