I’m So Excited (Cert 15)
1 Disc (Distributor: Pathé) Running time: 90 minutes
Peninsula Flight 2549 is happily making its way to Mexico – or so the passengers think. The truth is that a slight fault with the landing gear means the plane is unable to land safely until a clear runway is found. With the economy class passengers and stewardesses all knocked out by drinks spiked with muscle relaxants, it is up to the three gay stewards Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo), Fajardo (Carlos Areces) and Joserra (Javier Cámara) to ensure the passengers in the business class are kept as comfortable and upbeat as possible in light of their impending danger.
After the unapologetic darkness and unsettling psycho horror of The Skin I Live In, celebrated Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar returns to the fizzy and flamboyant comedy formula with which he made his name. But don’t think that he has lost any of his cheekiness or boldness in pushing boundaries – there is more subtle and unsubtle smut and unabashed sexual shenanigans to make Carry On films seem like Jackanory. But as always with Almodóvar it’s so tongue in cheek and over the top it’s much easier to just go with the flow than be offended by it.
The actual glitch is caused in a prologue featuring cameos of long time Almodóvar collaborators Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas but the pilots, bisexual Alex (Antonio de la Torre) – who also happens to be Joserra’s lover – and hetero Benito (Hugo Silva), who once “experimented” with Alex – want to keep the secret from the passengers, hence the drugging of those in economy class.
However those in business class are very much awake and with Joserra hitting the tequila, the problem does not stay a secret for much longer. With death a potential outcome, the three stewards doe their best to distract the passengers from their fate via any mean necessary, bringing out some personal secrets and brining together some lost and kindred souls.
If one is already familiar with Almodóvar’s work, they will know the sort of tropes he will introduce to us in his scripts. In this case we have Bruna (Almodóvar favourite Lola Dueñas) a forty-something virgin who claims to be psychic; Norma Boss (another muse for Pedro, Cecilia Roth) a former dominatrix who thinks she is a target of the Spanish government due to her list of “well known” clients; love rat Ricardo (Guillermo Toledo); hitman Infante (José María Yazpik), businessman Sr. Más (José Luis Torrijo) who is looking for his runaway daughter; and a young married couple (Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Laya Marti) who spend most of their time asleep.
Quite a disparate bunch and one unquestionably prone to some extreme personality clashes yet Almodóvar manages to bring them all together by the film ends – albeit with a little help from the festive stewards and their intoxicating cocktails. The original Spanish title Los amantes pasajerosi translates to The Passenger Lovers which gives you a small clue of what goes down on this fateful flight, although it is fair to say not quite as you may imagine it. The English language title I’m So Excited is lifted from the choice of song the stewards perform to entertain the passengers, in a superbly choreographed dance routine that is as hilarious as it is ribald.
As the first openly gay Spanish director to be embraced by the mainstream, Almodóvar has never been shy in exploring sexual issue from both sides of the fence and while his gay characters sometimes fall close to, if not bang on, the “mincing” stereotypes that many feel sets the gay community back some twenty years, one gets the feeling that this is Almodóvar simply flying his flag proudly saying “we are what we are – deal with it”.
The other important factor is that the audience doesn’t laugh at his characters but laughs with them. His three leads Raúl Arévalo, Javier Cámara and Carlos Areces play their roles with a knowing wink and relish the chance to act naturally flamboyant in the face of adversity, providing a fresh alternative to the hackneyed testosterone approach flight movies usual rely upon.
In the midst of this airplane drama there is a brief subplot back on terra firma featuring Ricardo’s current love Alba (Paz Vega) whom he calls up just as she is about to throw herself off her balcony. Unfortunately she drops her phone which falls rather miraculously into the basket of a passing cyclist below, who just happens to be Ruth (Blanca Suárez), another former flame of Ricardo’s. Even at twenty thousand feet he is still causing trouble!
This of course is nothing compared to the love triangle of sorts brewing between Alex, Benito and Joserra in the cockpit, which for once does seem to take on that rude connotation we all sniggered at as child when we first heard the name. Suffice to say the Mile High Club gains a few new members before the film ends but who and how, you’ll have to see for yourself.
As always, the script is full of lightning fast quips and catty dialogue as the sins of the flesh and the behaviour of those who commit them come under scrutiny from our colourful cast. It seems after The Skin I Live In, Almodóvar himself needed to have fun again and one can feel that permeating through every frame.
With a mixture of familiar cast members and newcomers none of the characters feel like rehashes of Almodóvar’s past successes, each one uniquely individual and pertinent to the plot whilst still being believable. And as for his gay leads, they are the most honest characters of the bunch and it is through them that everyone else finds themselves taking a step closer to their own true selves.
I’m So Excited is a simple yet deliriously wicked romp that is the movie equivalent of having an ice cream sundae when you’re supposed to be on a diet. Just lie back, forget about the calories and enjoy!
Making Of the VFX
Creation Of the Airplane Crash Site
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black