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¡Los Amantes Pasajeros!

I’m So Excited! is both excitable and dull

July 30, 2013, 12:00 am

Here’s the setup: A plane takes off from Spain headed for Mexico. The pilots discover there’s a problem with the landing gear (the result of a silly opening scene featuring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz as part of the flight’s mechanical crew—yeah, right), and spend the rest of the flight circling and dumping fuel while air traffic control tries to find a runway for them to attempt a crash landing.

Sounds like the makings of a great farce, right? I wonder whether anyone told director Pedro Almodóvar that a circling airline is a great metaphor for not knowing what to do with your actors or story. I’m So Excited! is so all over the place that it seems as if it’s dealing with a bad case of multiple personality disorder.

That said, it’s remarkably sure of its silliness, even if all the silliness is painfully contrived. For example, how does one reduce the number of passengers we have to deal with on an Airbus? Simple: Almodóvar gives everyone in coach a sleeping pill and the unwashed masses are passed out for the duration of the flight.

Other possible solutions the director may have considered (I have no way of knowing): Food poisoning with bad fish; a late-night flight with few passengers; a drop in cabin pressure. That’s a long way of saying it doesn’t take much effort to deal with the many, many characters waiting for something to do back in coach (and Almodóvar does uses a couple when he needs to).

As for the story, there are a few ins and outs that are mildly interesting, if not totally engaging. For example, a woman contemplating suicide on a bridge somewhere in Spain receives a phone call from Ricardo (Guillermo Toledo) as the plane he’s on circles. The woman drops the phone and in lands in the basket of a passing cyclist, Ruth (Blanca Suárez).

As it happens, Ruth and Ricardo know each other, because why not? But that’s where the interest in their story begins and ends. (Oh, they were having an affair at some point, and she left him because Ricardo wouldn’t leave the woman contemplating suicide. Really.)

There’s also a dominatrix on board, Norma (Almodóvar veteran Cecilia Roth), who’s convinced the plane’s mechanical problems are simple cover for an assassination attempt on her. Her performance would be funny if her character weren’t so irritating, though the way she’s tied to the other passengers is somewhat clever.

The rest of the movie features the flight attendants, a campy crew, devising ways to keep everyone liquored and drugged up so they don’t freak out and cause a panic. Needless to say, their shenanigans cause almost as many problems as the damaged landing gear.

One of the flight attendants does have a more fun purpose than the rest: Joserra (Javier Cámara), because of a previous airborne trauma, has made a decision to never lie. Watching the other flight attendants try to keep him from answering questions asked of him by the passengers has its moments.

In the end, the stakes are pretty low, and the whole enterprise seems like the fevered dreams of Stefon, the SNL character whose list of clubs is always more outrageous than his previous visit. By the time the pilots find a runway, there will probably be a whole lot of shrugging going on from the audience. At least Almodóvar finds a decent reason to include the Pointer Sisters’ song “I’m So Excited,” even if the cabaret the flight attendants perform to it is pretty dull.

It would be nice to think the division between crew, business class and coach is a metaphor for contemporary Spanish life, and it might be. But if you’re not privy to daily life in Spain, it’s all probably goofy, and not fun-goofy, either.



Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar

With Javier Cámara, Lola Dueñas and Cecilia Roth

CCA Cinematheque

90 min.



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