I’m So Excited is my introduction to renowned director Pedro Almodóvar’s work. It’s to my understanding that his latest romp strays away from what experienced movie goers are normally used to from the Spanish filmmaker – at least, his more recent outings. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing only time will tell as we watch this comedy’s theatrical run become fleeting or make itself at home.
I’m So Excited also plays as a comeback for absurdist comedy – performed as a silly soap opera. That’ll sound like a remark pandering to the art house crowd (which it isn’t supposed to be), but I believe the insanity can be enjoyed by everyone. I sure did.
Audiences are aboard a doomed flight headed to Mexico City. The only problem being that the landing gear is faulty, causing the pilots to fly the plane around in a circle until an available runway appears or further instructions are radioed in from the control centre.
In the meantime, three magnetic and flamboyant flight attendants try to keep their sanity buoyant and the passengers calm with the help of alcohol, drugs, and live entertainment.
The title I’m So Excited, I suppose, could work as irony. It could also reference the musical number that takes place mid-way through the film – which is easily the best part of Almodóvar’s movie – but, let’s humour this idea for a moment.
Everyone aboard Peninsula Flight 2549 play their parts as deadpan as possible. Same deal for the flight attendants – which allows the high-profile personalities to be suitably tied down. Their lives are in danger, but everything is handled in a matter-of-fact manner as side conversations about sexual orientation and the likes are discussed and quickly dropped. It’s a type of approach that adds an element of surrealism onto the grand scheme, making this farce stand out on unique feet.
Because, on the whole, that’s what Almodóvar’s film is. One big, fat, weird, naughty and absurd farce. When Almodóvar keeps events and characters light and perversely curious, the film is great fun to watch. It has a cheap look to it, but scenes have been lit and framed in such a way that reinforces the punchlines and its dedication to it’s coy handling of melodrama.
However, Almodóvar wants all of his characters to have equal screen time and sufficient back stories – which becomes problematic and a bit of a buzzkill. Whereas I appreciate fully fleshed out characters and reasons to care about their motivations as much as the next patron, there’s a backwards logic to screenplay and directorial development when tackling a film that plays sleepwalking sex for laughs.
When keeping things light and fluffy, a filmmaker must commit to that playful task. That filmmaker could try to work more depth into their movie, but it runs the risk of becoming uneven – which is what this film becomes in parts. Most notably, during scenes involving a character named Ricardo (played by Guillermo Toledo). Almodóvar insists that Ricardo has a side story worth telling about lost love and wandering romances, but it’s incredibly dry compared to what the writer/director had been shelling out to his movie goers beforehand.
When exiting the theatre, my brother (who is one of those experienced Almodóvarer’s) had problems with these portions as well – stating that they were “ok” but that “they belonged in another movie”. Even as a newbie to the Spanish filmmaker, I agree wholeheartedly.
But, the Ricardo tangents are the only dry spells in I’m So Excited. Other than those, Almodóvar’s film is very entertaining and lively. And, it’s a great collective feeling sitting through a subtitled comedy and hearing the audience roar with each joke – showing that the talent isn’t only in the cheeky performances but also in the provocative writing and direction.