Skies are a little too friendly in 'I'm So Excited'
05:00 AM, Jun 27, 2013
Forced campy comedy aboard a circling jet makes for a directionless movie by Spanish filmmaking master Pedro Almodóvar.
A technical failure has jeopardized a flight from Madrid to Mexico City in I’m So Excited ( * * out of four; rated R; opens Friday in select cities). But while the plot strives to be a raunchy-clever sex farce, it feels more like a leaden repurposing of Airplane with drunken pilots, mile-high dalliances and dancing flight attendants.
The pilot (Antonio de la Torre), co-pilot (Hugo Silva) and flight crew have no clue what to do when they discover they’re traveling with defective landing gear, so they circle over the airport in Toledo, Spain, waiting for the best conditions to make an emergency landing.
Those passengers fortunate enough to be in business class can move about freely and drink heartily. But all of those in economy class are drugged into a stupor by flight attendants who slip muscle relaxants into drinks in a comical statement about haves and have-nots.
That’s one of the rare funny scenes in a one-note film that meanders but never seems to land on fallow ground.
Privileged business-class passengers are served mescaline-infused cocktails and entertained with an extended song and dance by a trio of gay flight attendants lip-syncing the Pointer Sisters song that gives the film its name.
There are attempts at screwball farce in this film, which is billed as Almodóvar’s return to his early comic roots. But the director’s best work has been in more recent dramas such as Volver and Talk to Her.
Characters are strictly flamboyant caricatures here: Bruna, a virginal clairvoyant woman (Lola Dueñas), keeps smelling death aboard the flight and finally traces it to a hit man. The hit man (José Maria Yazpick), in turn, becomes amorously entwined with a dominatrix/madam (Cecilia Roth).
Scenes meant for shock value don’t deliver. Determined to shed her virginity, Bruna has her way with an unconscious passenger in economy. Ostensibly meant to be zany, the scene falls awkwardly flat.
The film abruptly shifts in the second act to follow the love life of an actor (Guillermo Toledo) in business class and his two lovers (Paz Vega and Blanca Suárez). It’s as if Almodóvar realized audiences might feel trapped with an essentially uninteresting, one-dimensional in-flight group and decided to let viewers pop out for some air. But these segments are no better.
Another jarring shift occurs early: The opening features Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, both veterans of Almodóvar movies, but their scene amounts to a pointless cameo.
For a comedy about sex and death, there’s precious little humor derived from either.
Excited could be regarded as a parable for the collision course that the beleaguered country of Spain is on, but the film doesn’t work as social commentary, either. It’s fitfully ambitious but far from exciting.