After such heavyweight contenders as Talk To Her and Bad Education , Pedro Almodóvar has gone back to his roots. A garish, garrulous comedy, primarily set aboard a plane bound for Mexico, I’m So Excited! should delight fans of the director’s exuberant early work. Think Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown – only this time it’s everyone from a bi-curious co-pilot to a pair of newlyweds unravelling.
After a pre-title sequence featuring cameos from two of Almodóvar’s most famous regulars – Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz as arguing ground staff at the airport – Peninsula Flight 2549 gets airborne. In the cabin are three stewards, loose-tongued Joserra (Javier Cámara), tequila-swigging Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) and the portly Fajas (Carlos Areces), who preys at a mini-altar stashed in a briefcase.
With this eccentric trio drugging the hoards in economy with a muscle relaxant to keep them sleeping, it’s a convenient plot device to keep the action in business class. Here we meet a number of Almodóvar archetypes including Norma (Cecilia Roth), an actress turned dominatrix, Infante (José María Yazpik), a Mexican hitman, and Bruna (Lola Dueñas), a virgin psychic who can “smell death”.
When it becomes clear the plane has a problem with the landing gear, the film settles into its holding pattern and the crew try to keep up the spirits of the hysterical passengers. This includes a choreographed routine to the eponymous Pointer Sisters’ classic and mixing up a mescaline-laced Valencia cocktail (by which point, the Mile High Club is bursting with new members).
With lines like “In the army, I had more blow jobs than an airbed”, the comedy is never sophisticated – though Almodóvar still makes pointed barbs about corruption, politics and the economy.
Forgettable, frothy, chaotic, charming, it’s hardly groundbreaking compared to Volver . At best it feels like a director blowing off steam – though nobody knows how to do that better than Almodóvar.
Full of fizz, filth and fun, I’m So Excited! is like an ’80s retro-blast. Its scattershot comedy may not impress latecomers to Almodóvar’s career, but old-school fans will love it.