Widely renowned for fusing his bright, exuberant visual style with colourful insight into various taboos, Spaniard Pedro Almodovar took a sinister left turn with his previous work ‘The Skin I Live In’, an incisive and provocative delve into the world of plastic surgery. Not a director to remain too comfortable in his own skin, here he hitches a plane seemingly craving a return to a time less demanding and more hopeful in nature. Expect the eccentricity levels to soar and many delightful alcoholic beverages to go in the opposite direction..
With its mischievous premise set up by two Almodovar favourties (Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, don’t give up the day jobs!), we’re soon all aboard a flight to Mexico City. A trio of flamboyant male air stewardesses by the name of Joserra (Javier Camara), Fajas (Carlos Areces) and Ulloa (Raul Arevalo) anchor proceedings as they conveniently sedate the entirety of ‘economy class’, leaving the eclectic top-end clientele including a peculiar psychic (Lola Duenas) to bring new meaning to ‘business class’.
It soon becomes apparent that Peninsula Flight 2549 is in quite the predicament, with the passengers’ lives endangered no thanks to a fault with the landing gear. As news filters through, it leaves everyone involved no choice but to become increasingly hysterical and mentally unravel as they struggle to come to terms with their potential ‘end’. Cue such unorthodox methods like delving into a trustee repertoire of musical numbers complete with risqué dance moves and one’s desperate hunt to lose their virginity.
For all its heightened absurdity and hilarity, ‘I’m So Excited’ is Almodovar on autopilot. Rather like its way of transport here, the director seems unsure of which clear direction to take the material. A cinematic cocktail spiked with smutty one-liners, a sly political agenda nodding to the economic troubles of his homeland and the passive dissection of homo/bisexuality may occasionally hit their mark in respective sequences, but as a cohesive whole the film never quite fully satisfies.
His body of work has always boasted bizarre characters whom have failed to conform to convention, with ‘Excited’ being no exception. Providing an irresistibly feel-good tribute to the Pointer Sisters track, the combination of Camara, Areces and Arevalo proves fruitful injecting the film with their playful and often funny banter. Despite its lean running time, the likes of Norma’s sharp tongued dominatrix (Cecilia Roth) and Antonio De La Torre’s frustrated captain Alex are all given ample opportunity to make their mark.
On the surface Almodovar returning to the unashamedly camp and raunchy tone of his early projects may have always been an enticing prospect, however his latest sadly never threatens to hit such heights. Despite hitting spots of turbulence during the trip, ‘I’m So Excited’ is nonetheless a fun-filled romp that brims with enthusiasm.