Starring: Javier Cámara, Lola Dueñas, Cecilia Roth
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar (“Talk to Her”)
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar (“Talk to Her”)
While his intricate and highly profound dramatic work like “The Skin I Live In,” “Volver” and his masterpiece “Talk to Her” have been the cornerstone of what filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar has been creating in the last decade, the Spanish director returns to his darkly comedic roots with his newest narrative, “I’m So Excited.” It’s a genre Almodóvar is undoubtedly comfortable in – and one that all his actors embrace wholeheartedly – but with “I’m So Excited” he can’t seem to harness the overly absurd nature of the script long enough to give his characters anything interesting to say. For Almodóvar – a 2002 Academy Award-winning screenwriter for “Talk to Her” – it’s extremely unusual for the dialogue to be so ordinary.
The exhaustive ramblings by a small group of first-class airplane passengers are one thing, but the hilariously choreographed and high-spirited dancing by the plane’s flamboyant trio of stewards is another. These three airplane employees, Joserra, Ulloa, and Fajas (played perfectly by actors Javier Cámar, Raúl Arévalo and Carlos Areces), carry Almodóvar’s whimsical vision as far as they can on their own. Tending to the passengers’ and pilots’ needs during a doomed flight from Madrid to Mexico City, the sexually-charged stewards do all they can to keep the passengers on board as calm as possible. They also find time to entertain everyone by lip-synching and gyrating to the Pointer Sisters’ 1982 hit “I’m So Excited.” That scene alone, which was shown in the first trailer released for the film, is reason enough to tolerate the rest of Almodóvar bizarre and sorely unfunny storytelling.
Aside from Joserra, Ulloa, and Fajas keeping the film from crashing and burning, none of Almodóvar’s other various campy characters lend a hand with the heavy lifting. This includes Bruna (Lola Dueñas), a talkative psychic; Norma (Cecilia Roth), a snobby dominatrix; and Benito (Hugo Silva) and Alex (Antonio de la Torre), two sexually-ambiguous pilots, who deserve at least a pat on the back for not making a joke with the word “cockpit.”
Yes, as silly and broad as Almodóvar’s picture is, it could’ve been a lot worse. But at least the passengers seem to be having fun throwing back shots of tequila, taking mescaline and participating in some kind of orgy that sort of just happens out of thin air. Almodóvar may have captured the vintage Pan Am look he was going for, but there are no jet-setters here. “I’m So Excited” lifts off because its captain is great at what he does, but it’s a very bumpy ride.