Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The airplane comedy is a welcome trip after the Spanish filmmaker's past dark and intense decade — which has included The Skin I’m In (2011), about a grieving father-turned-Dr. Frankenstein; Broken Embraces, a film that pieces together flashbacks of a doomed love affair (2009); Volver (2006), a tragic matriarchal ghost story, and Talk to Her (2002), about a comatose dancer.
Pedro has needed to lighten up, and he indeed has, but with mucho less innovation and complexity than his most critically acclaimed comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). I'm So Excited! is Almodóvar’s old comedy formula lite.
Even if I’m So Excited! doesn’t make any AFI lists, it’s still worth a look for fans and anyone jonesing for old-fashioned sex comedy. The film’s Spanish title, Los amantes pasajeros, is a double entendre, meaning "passenger lovers" or "passing lovers," which gets murky in translation. The American title doesn’t make sense plot-wise, but it’s a clever marketing tactic as “I’m So Excited!” by the Pointer Sisters is featured in the film’s entertaining musical number — sure to appeal to American pop culture geeks.
The loose plot follows an airline crew and passengers on board a plane originally en route to Mexico City but circling Spain, waiting for an emergency landing. Budget problems and bad morale indirectly lead to mechanical failure and a mishap with the loudspeaker, which broadcasts passengers’ personal phone calls. Three flight attendants (Carlos Areces, Javier Camara and Raul Arevalo) sedate the passengers — and themselves — with tequila and mescaline.
The crew's futility and inept crisis management satirize Spain’s financial crisis, Almodóvar has told the press, and I'm So Excited!is like an affectionate token of comic relief.
The passengers on board I’m So Excited! 's flight include a virgin psychic (Lola Duenas), who smells death and is ready for sex; a couple on honeymoon (Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Laya Martí); a troubled financier (José Luis Torrijo); a dark and handsome man with a mysterious trade (José María Yazpik); an actor (Guillermo Toledo), who recently left his mentally ill girlfriend to take a job in Mexico; and a high maintenance middle-aged woman of some notoriety (Almodóvar prima doña Cecilia Roth), who draws the admiration and attention of the flight attendants. Almodóvar all-stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz appear in a cameo at the beginning of the film, too.
Almodóvar sprinkles in some gay-straight send-ups — the film’s closeted pilot (Antonio de la Torre) is having an affair with one of the flight attendants, and the co-pilot (Hugo Silva), drinks with the crew and is bi-sexually confused. The three male flight attendants are the movie's scene stealers (especially Camara) — a catty, hyper-emotional trio who'd be the life of any party.
As always, Almodóvar's vivid color schemes co-star. I’m So Excited! sports that pastel smart flight attendant fashion of the 1960s, recalling public aviation’s golden years: when food was served for free with a smile and kids received nifty airline pins.
And while I’m So Excited!’s nostalgia, campy melodrama and flamboyance offer light entertainment fare, look to Almodóvar’s older films for edgier fun.