out of Five
Running time: 90
Energetic, outrageously camp and frequently funny, Pedro Almodovar's latest film is a welcome throwback to the raucous comedies the director made in the 1980s.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, I'm So Excited (or Los Amantes Pasajeros, original title fans) begins with cameos by Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz as a pair of airport ground crew members whose distracted flirting leads to a problem with the landing gear of Peninsula flight 2549 just before the plane takes off. Once in the air, the pilot and co-pilot (Antonio de la Torre and Hugo Silva) prepare the crew for potential disaster, leaving the three gay stewards (Javier Camara, Carlos Areces and Raul Arevalo) to distract the first class passengers as best they can, having already put all of Economy to sleep with a cocktail of knockout pills.
Naturally, word soon leaks out and soon the passengers are all forced to confront the issues in their lives. Chief amongst these are: Bruna (Lola Duenas), a thirty-something psychic who doesn't want to die a virgin; Norma (Cecilia Roth), a dominatrix-slash-madam who runs a powerful blackmail ring; Ricardo (Guillermo Toledo), an actor who's just walked out on his suicidal girlfriend (Paz Vega); Mr Mas (Jose Luis Torrijo), a banker who's wanted for fraud; and Infanta (Jose Maria Yazpik), a shady character who seems to have mob connections.
Almodovar has referred to I'm So Excited as ‘my gayest film ever’ and it's hard not to disagree, even though it's up against some pretty stiff competition. To that end, the campy performances are excellent, particularly Javier Camera, who's very funny as catty head steward Joserra and Raul Arevalo as the hilariously up-for-anything co-pilot, while there's strong, albeit less exaggerated comic support from both Lola Duenas and Cecilia Roth.
On top of that, the script maintains a snappy rhythm throughout, bouncing gleefully back and forth between moments of high camp, outrageously filthy dialogue and soapy melodrama. In particular, Almodovar has a knack for a well crafted comic crescendo, most notably a cockpit-bound set piece where several characters are all crowded in together and resentments, jealousies and jaw-dropping revelations come thick and fast.
Almodovar's trademarked bright colours are out in full force here, thanks to José Luis Alcaine's suitably lurid cinematography and there's an enjoyably zippy score from regular collaborator Alberto Iglesias. In addition, Almodovar orchestrates a number of joyous moments, most notably a wonderful finale and a show-stopping lip-synch performance of the title number that will have you grinning like an idiot.
Essentially, Almodovar has taken the template of Airplane! and turned it into a soapy sex comedy; your (air) mileage may vary, but I’m So Excited is a lot of fun if you're prepared to go along for the ride.