Cruising at a stratospheric altitude of high camp, Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited is a colourful aerial romp that recasts his native Spain’s current economic woes as frantic farce.
His characters are on board a crocked plane going round in circles, unable to land (the metaphor couldn’t be more blatant). How do they deal with the crisis? With sex and drugs and eighties pop!
Península Airlines flight 2549 is supposed to be going from Madrid to Mexico City, but a bungle by two preoccupied members of the airport ground crew (played by Almodóvar favourites Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz) causes a mechanical hitch with the landing gear. While air traffic control search for a free runway somewhere in Spain, those on board the plane cope as best they can.
The passengers in Economy Class, drugged unconscious by the crew, sleep blithely through the drama. In Business Class, the three gay air stewards attempt to distract and divert the handful of fliers – a high-class dominatrix, a virginal psychic, a fugitive financier, a philandering soap actor, a honeymoon couple and an enigmatic Mexican ‘security advisor’.
Fuelled by the lethal ‘Valencia water’ cocktails concocted by the stewards (a combination of vodka, champagne and orange juice laced with mescaline), everyone has a high old time, including the plane’s bisexual captain and sexually confused co-pilot. Whether the same can be said for the audience is another matter.
Sadly, I’m So Excited just isn’t very funny. You can tell Almodóvar is striving really hard for zaniness, but the comedy has even less fizz than flat champagne, though some viewers may find the stewards’ lip-synched Pointer Sisters performance a scream (the song gives the film its English title; in Spanish it’s called Los amantes pasajeros, a play on words that means both ‘The fleeting lovers’ and ‘The passenger lovers’).
Almodóvar is clearly trying to recapture the spirit of his earlier films, but compared with the anarchic zest of, say, Pepi, Luci, Bom or the screwball dazzle of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, I’m So Excited barely gets off the ground.
In cinemas from Friday 3rd May.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.