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I'm So Excited

Pedro Almodovar first attracted international attention in the mid-1980s with a series of splashily colored comedies that were unlike anything the world had seen from Spain, especially under the repressive reign of Franco. They presented a cheeky pansexuality in an era when gay culture onscreen was still taboo (at least, unless it was presented in the most melodramatic of ways).

In recent years Almodovar has been returning to his roots. His last film, The Skin I Live In, exercised the fondness for European horror films he expressed in Matador (1986). I’m So Excited (retitled from Los Amantes Pasajeros, an apparently untranslatable double entendre) is a return to comedy a la What Have I Done to Deserve This? and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. But whether because the world has moved on or because the filmmaker at 63 has lost his ability to outrage as well as to entertain, it’s a wan effort, pleasant but never provocative.

Cued by a prologue featuring guest appearances by Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, I’m So Excited takes place almost entirely on an airplane in trouble. The landing gear has been damaged and the pilots are circling while waiting for an appropriate location for an emergency landing.

But never mind that: The real drama is among the plane’s crew and first class passengers. (The hoi polloi in the back of the plane have been drugged into unconsciousness, which I suppose is some sort of political commentary, though it plays more like script laziness in not wanting to have to deal with too many characters).

The crew is headed by three stewards, played as gay stereotypes that would never be accepted in an American film, or one from a non-gay director. The pilots are sexually ambivalent, which accounts for most of the movie’s humor. As for the non-unconscious passengers, all have tawdry problems of their own, which are teased out in best soap opera fashion and, if not resolved, at least palliated in an orgy fueled by mescaline-laced Valencia cocktails.

It’s all rather understated where you would expect it to be hysterical. That Almodovar may be doing this on purpose is suggested in an early scene where the passengers learn of their plight but, rather than react with alarm, become distracted by a discussion of the crew’s tangled sexual comminglings. Chalk it up to Almodovar perhaps wanting to do a low-pressure project before tackling something more substantial; it’s a movie rewarded by low expectations.

Watch the trailer for I'm So Excited

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