Release Date: June 28, 2013 (NY & LA)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: El Deseo S.A. / Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Javier Cámara; Lola Dueñas; Cecilia Roth; Raúl Arévalo; Antonio de la Torre; Hugo Silva; Carlos Areces
This is the latest from flamboyant Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”). I was really psyched to see this since I enjoy Almodóvar’s work and am a sucker for any movie that has to do with air travel. Alas, it is with barely veiled indifference that I report that “I’m So Excited!” is nothing to get too excited about.
The main issue I took with the film is its tone. It yo-yos wildly from zany to drama to zany and back again. I realize that Almodóvar’s work is typically designed to uncover societal truths through wild comedy and outrageous characters, that’s part of what makes him such a successful satirist. However, in this film, the director seems to want to bring both the comedy and the drama to the forefront and there simply isn’t enough room in the film’s 90 minutes to allow both elements to take center stage. So while some of the film, mostly via hilarious dialogue written by Almodóvar, is gut-bustingly funny, it is immediately counteracted by a serious scene about infidelity or something.
The story involves a (fictional) Peninsula Airlines flight from Madrid to Mexico City. Almost immediately, we learn that all of economy class has been drugged with sleeping pills to distract them from a technical glitch afflicting the aircraft: a malfunction with the landing gear. Business class (where the bulk of the action takes place), however, is wide-awake and acutely aware of the problem, causing all sorts of mayhem amongst the wacky passengers.
The premise and first few scenes set us up for a screwball comedy in the skies. In short order though, we are presented with scenarios such as a fallen businessman about to go to prison who hasn’t seen his daughter in many years, a closeted pilot who is hiding his secret life from his wife and kids, the potential suicide of a passenger’s former lover, just to name a few. All of that drama distracts from the zaniness and the zaniness distracts from the drama, so the audience is left confused as to the proper emotional wave they are supposed to ride. After a hilarious segment, the audience needs a minute to come down, as it were. But if the comedic scene is flush with a scene about a suicide, this leaves the audience with no chance to cool off before heading into the drama. It’s an awkward transition and that seems to be how this movie is structured.
Sort of compensating for the drama is the comedy, which is funny. A highlight is definitely the impromptu musical number that three swishy male flight attendants engage in to the tune of the title song by The Pointer Sisters. The double entendres and miscommunications among the passengers and flight crew make for some giggly fun as well.
A lot of the Almodóvar trademarks are here: the sexual humor, the vibrant color scheme, Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz (cameos in the first scene). But the movie is disappointing if you are seeking wacky comedy, which the previews and poster would lead you to believe. “I’m So Excited!” is not wacky enough, nor dramatic enough to coalesce into an exciting or even film.