I’m So Excited
The prospect of watching a new film by Pedro Almodóvar is almost as exciting as watching the latest Guillermo del Toro offering. Great direction, gripping and often harrowing plots make up Almodóvar’s recent filmography (Volver, Bad Education) and his latest film shows he’s still making use of his usual acting buddies (Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas have a brief 5-minute stint at the beginning of the film) but otherwise virtually nothing makes sense in I’m So Excited – and even if it does, it’s not meant to. This’ll certainly appeal to some – including me, at first – but I’m So Excited’s attempted return to farcical comedy is little more than mind-numbing and outdated.
On board the Peninsula Flight 2549, a technical error has occurred that has endangered the lives of its passengers and crew. The pilots struggle to find a resolution, while the stewards (most of them gay, one transsexual) attempt to keep their guests entertained and their minds elsewhere, with strict instructions to keep their passengers convinced that nothing is wrong. It’s not long before those in first class get a sense that all is not when it seems, when they discover that everybody in economy class is mysteriously asleep. Panic strikes, fear kicks in; how can they calm their passengers? Petrified for their passengers’ safety as well as their own, the stewards mix up a lethal cocktail that’ll have first class forgetting their impending doom and instead focusing on their genitals, before performing a rendition of The Pointer Sisters’ ‘I’m So Excited’. Frivolous sex, sensational confessions and far far too much Valencia Water and synthetic mescaline follows suit.
Almodóvar maintains that I’m So Excited is an “unrealistic, metaphorical comedy,” and while it certainly entertains a ludicrously camp cast and a metaphorically exhausting plot, it just isn’t funny. The blow job jokes, the homosexual quips; they fall on deaf ears and zero laughter. In fact, it borders on offensive. I have no idea how I’m meant to laugh giddily whilst I watch a man drug his newly wed bride with questionable pills and a lethal cocktail, before lapping up the results as she has sex with him barely conscious and doped up to her eyeballs. Or when a psychic woman, desperate to lose her virginity, sneaks into economy class to have sex with a man who isn’t even awake. It’s vulgar, daft and laced with toilet humour – man’s tackiest form of wit – not to mention encompassing a disjointed plot, if there even was a plot in the first place.
Having said all that, the film doesn’t take itself seriously, so I have no idea why I am. Almodóvar took an admirable step away from his usual calibre and a step back into what made him fall in love with film in the first place; the American screwball comedies from the 30s and 40s. Verging on slapstick, I’m So Excited embellishes the light-hearted silliness of an earlier era, combining visually astounding scenes with quick camera cuts and angles that lend a colourful quirkiness. It’s just a shame that I’m So Excited feels overly ambitious and crass, diminishing the film from becoming one of Almodóvar’s great achievements.
By all accounts, the ‘I’m So Excited’ dance routine is the scene that’ll evoke the most laughs. Aside from brilliant choreography, it manages to claim back a little of the humour that’s otherwise so conspicuously absent from the first half. The second half is just as bad, if not worse, but at least we’ve been given the understanding that Almodóvar knows what’s happening on screen makes no sense; he’s being deliberately crazy and outlandish, so by God, just let him get on with it. And if nothing else appeals to you, then maybe the music will, with a tinkering of Metronomy, electric guitars and jazzy Spanish lounge music.
Fans of Almodóvar (those who enjoyed Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and High Heels, that is) will lap up his return to the sassy, showy and silly comedy of his earlier films. I’m So Excited is cheeky and completely irreverent, so we cannot condemn Almodóvar for feeling nostalgic. And even despite the fact that the film made me want to vomit rainbows, there’s no disputing the fact that Almodóvar is still a great filmmaker. But what he’s not – at least for this genre and at least in my mind – is the world’s greatest storyteller.