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I'm So Excited!

Los amantes pasajeros 2013 | 90 min | R | 1.85:1

I'm So Excited!


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 28 June, 2013
 03 May, 2013

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I'm So Excited!


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I'm So Excited! Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, July 18, 2013

Nobody disappoints quite like Pedro Almodovar. The famous, celebrated writer/director returns to his roots with “I’m So Excited,” intending to awaken his dormant sense of humor, last viewed in full bloom two decades ago in “Kika.” Spending the interim crafting immaculate melodramas and collecting awards for his work, Almodovar hopes to restore a little spark to his oeuvre with this attempt at a sex-and-midair-panic cinematic soufflé, only to come up frustratingly short in the laugh department. Although admirably bizarre and forward when it comes to the dance of the pants, “I’m So Excited” doesn’t work itself into a proper lather, showing only intermittent flashes of inspiration.

After a distracted ground crew (including Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz) fails to complete their job, a plane from Peninsula Airlines takes off from Spain to Mexico hosting an overcrowded collection of coach passengers, while a select few take command of business class. To ease the journey, flight attendants Joserra (Javier Camara), Fajas (Carlos Areces), and Ulloa (Raul Arevalo) have drugged the budget flyers, while partaking in alcohol and gossip themselves, sharing vices with the pilots (Antonio de la Torre and Hugo Silva). Seated up front are The Groom (Miguel Angel Silvestre) and The Bride (Laya Marti), off on their honeymoon; Norma (Celia Roth), a high-maintenance terror of a flyer; Bruna (Lola Duenas), a virgin and psychic who senses a wild flight ahead; and Ricardo (Guillermo Toledo), an actor juggling the complicated lives of two former girlfriends (Paz Vega and Blanca Suarez). After a discovery involving faulty landing gear is made by a concerned passenger, the crew works their magic to distract the conscious, using spiked drinks and cabaret performances to entertain, triggering unusual reactions out seemingly uptight people.

Almodovar built his career on outrageous entertainment, always providing a screen party populated with bizarre characters and mad events typically centered on sex and bad behavior. “I’m So Excited” carries the same promise, establishing a most unusual airline where the staff sedates the customers, pour drinks for themselves and the pilots, and allow passengers to mingle in the cockpit. It’s Almodovar Air and it seems like such a gas, yet the director hasn’t managed a farce like this in quite some time, and the working parts of the picture feel rusty. Chalk it up to maturation or stagnancy, but the 2013 Almodovar isn’t throwing a party with “I’m So Excited,” he’s mimicking one.

There are numerous characters to follow during the film, each with their own back pocket of concerns and idiosyncrasies. Perhaps most pronounced is Bruna, a cheery thirtysomething woman who senses doom in the air, desperate to lose her virginity on this special flight. There’s also Norma, a blunt object of a woman who refuses to be mistreated by the crew, scribbling up a complaint letter, ordering other passengers to sign their name to the document. Backstories are offered to everyone involved, helping to fill “I’m So Excited” with content, taking an extended break with Ricardo’s plight concerning disparate lovers: one looking to kill herself due to a deep psychological fracture, while the other is accidentally caught up in the suicide scheme.

Dramatics and asides with the passengers are flat but nicely acted, yet the highlights of “I’m So Excited” emerge from the flight attendants: a trio of amorous gay men devoting themselves to professional service and carnal pursuits. Amusingly performed by Camara, Areces, and Arevalo, the men approach a true Almodovar show with their unexpectedly restrained characterizations, only really breaking out in a flurry of activity when the employees decide to perform the titular tune for nervous customers, whipping out some impromptu choreography. Once the director can find a well of energy to exploit, “I’m So Excited” springs to life. Cruelly, these moments are few and far between.

The mid-section of the movie gives itself over to deeply sexual antics, reminding the audience that nobody is better at direct sensuality with a layer of exposed bodily fluid than Almodovar. The rest of “I’m So Excited” keeps to a holding pattern, both in story and pace, dropping a sense of mischief when it needs it the most. It’s interesting to find Almodovar limping back to the light stuff after creating one of his darkest pictures (2011’s sensational “The Skin I Live In”), and perhaps it’s a spiced tonality best left in the past. After all, when the director makes a drama, it’s an event. “I’m So Excited” is simply forgettable.

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Antonio de la Torre, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Javier Cámara, José María Yazpik
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

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