I'm So Excited, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar's new film, is a great-looking, warm-hearted, laugh-free comedy that practically dares moviegoers to dismiss it. Yet its biggest strength is provocative and instructive in ways that still feel timely and valuable.
I'm So Excited may not be funny, but its irreverence and playfulness are instantly apparent. For example, most movies — especially ones without any immediately recognizable actors — might try to overemphasize cameo appearances from bankable international stars like Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. But I'm So Excited does no such thing. Cruz and Banderas appear early on as a pair of airport baggage-claim workers who learn that they're going to have a baby. But before their story goes any further, they're left behind, and for a while it's tough to believe they were ever there in the first place.
Almodóvar is far more interested in the goings-on aboard the airplane Cruz and Banderas were loading anyway. Due to political unrest and some problems with the landing gear, this plane, which was traveling from Madrid to Mexico City, is forced to fly around in circles until it is cleared for a risky emergency landing. As a precautionary measure, all of the flight's coach-class passengers and flight attendants have been sedated.
Sounds like a strange way to deal with a big problem, doesn't it? It gets stranger. For most of the film's run time, neither the airplane's crew nor the seven business-class passengers on board seem bothered by their predicament. That's because they're all too busy sharing sex stories and downing Valencia cocktails laced with mescaline that was retrieved from a male passenger's butt.
That's right, his butt. You see, this passenger was a drug mule for a long time, and he brought the mescaline with him on his honeymoon so he and his wife could have a good time. He keeps her sedated during the flight because she (apparently) likes to have wild sex with him while she's unconscious. It's that kind of movie.
I'm So Excited is also the kind of movie where everyone's keeping a secret. The lead flight attendant (Javier Cámara) is having an affair with the bisexual male pilot (Antonio de la Torre) while his male co-pilot (Hugo Silva, macho but gentle) slowly works through the sexual implications of some drunken fellatio he gave the pilot one night. Anything and everything goes, and goes smoothly. No one judges anyone else's actions as immoral or wrong. I mean, it is "wrong" that a flight attendant would return from the cockpit with a dollop of semen in the corner of his mouth, but that's more about professional decorum than anything else.
In short, nobody in I'm So Excited blinks at anyone else's sexual peccadilloes because nobody in the film suffers from that tormented, shame- and guilt-ridden attitude toward drugs, sexuality, and physical pleasure that infects nearly all American movies. This tolerance and generosity make I'm So Excited special and important and worth a look.
I'm So Excited
Opening Friday, August 2nd
Ridgeway Cinema Grill