Posted in: Review

I’m So Excited!

If anyone was clamoring for Pedro Almodovar’s take on the recent cinematic trend of apocalyptic dramas, I’m So Excited! is the emphatic, flamboyant answer. After all, the many colorful characters of the Spanish master’s latest pastiche of love, hate, and sex are going down… and not just in the manner you might initially might think. The landing gear on their plane is damaged, and the emergency protocol could result in disaster. And how do these characters respond? By engaging in choreographed dance numbers and random, semi-conscious sex romps.

Obviously, in the wake of the recent Asiana Airlines crash, a film focusing explicitly on a plane with damaged landing gear is taboo enough, let alone one that turns the scenario into racy farce. That’s why Almodovar places a cautionary card at the beginning of the film stating that I’m So Excited! is a work of fantasy, with no relation whatsoever to the real world. He couldn’t anticipate that a faulty plane landing would take place just as his film hit theaters, but he knew such a cavalier representation of air travel mortality would ruffle some feathers nonetheless.

As the opening statement indicates, the movie is such a freewheeling lark, a wink and a nod to those of us who have tracked the ebbs and flows of Almodovar’s career, that it’s hard to take offense. The scenario is merely the outside influence that allows several very myopic people to face the truth of who they are, embrace the life they have… and in many cases, let their freak flags fly. Small and simple though it is, I’m So Excited! fits snugly within the Almodovar filmography — it’s about odd people forced into action by extraordinary, unlikely, highly dramatic circumstances.

Peninsula Airlines Flight 2549 is circling over Toledo… not Ohio, but Spain. The landing gear is damaged, thereby rendering a safe, standard landing impossible. The pilots are communicating with the Control Center, attempting to plot a safe solution. In the meanwhile, interpersonal turmoil among flight passengers and personnel is reaching a madcap fever pitch. Economy Class passengers and flight attendants have been drugged and are unconscious. In Business Class, tequila is flowing among flight attendants Joserra (Javier Camara), Ulloa (Raul Arevalo), and Fajas (Carlos Areces), and the passengers are becoming increasingly suspicious. The goal is to keep passengers blissfully ignorant of the dire circumstances, though Joserra, who cannot tell a lie, renders that strategy moot. As hysteria builds among all conscious passengers, each person’s buried secrets are brought to the surface and this potentially ill-fated voyage becomes a mile-high confessional. As ever, these truly Almodovarian characters are preoccupied with love and fear, sex and death… but of course, aren’t we all?

I’m So Excited! completes the gradual movement in Almodovar’s work toward completely mannered farcical soap opera. The melodramatic strokes have always been strong throughout his oeuvre, but starting with Bad Education and carrying through VolverBroken Embraces, and The Skin I Live In, the tone has gradually shifted until now, to the point where Almodovar is wading in full-tilt kitsch. If the notion of such brazen flamboyance repulses you, it repulses some of the characters in the film, too. After the flight attendants finish an extended, fourth-wall-breaking performance of The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” a passenger asks, Iis this how your company handles dangerous situations? With performance art?” Almodovar’s answer is, unequivocally, “Yes!” After all, just like the passengers on Peninsula Flight 2549, it seems like we’re all going down. Society is in turmoil, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and what is Almodovar’s response? Let’s cut loose, be happy with who are, and love the time we have. And, of course, dance a little bit.