I'm So Excited! Directed by: Pedro Almodovar Cast: Javier Camara, Cecilia Roth, Paz Vega, Blanca Suarez, Carmen Machi, Lola Dueñas Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: July 5, 2013 (Chicago)
PLOT: Three flight attendants take care of their passengers as two pilots attempt to prevent their damaged plane from crashing.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you're familiar with Almodovar, this film is likely to play for you better than for the uninitiated, if at least for the sake of being aware of his dramatic style and recurring themes. This movie could be a cult classic, but only within the cult of people who follow Almodovar, and will watch anything he makes.
I'm So Excited!, which is like Pedro Almodovar's very gay Spanish version of Soul Plane, is a silly movie made that is outwardly fine with functioning as a simple breath of relaxed air from the tenser sides of his passion for melodrama. Yes, the director's shameless soapiness is still in tact, with hugely inconsequential results, but it's cushioned by goofy shenanigans, often involving the wavering sexuality for various passengers on a plane that is about to crash. In this round, Almoldovar finds lightness in the seriousness, despite taking tonal breaks to investigate a certain character's sadness.
Almodovar caters this wacky hootenanny with a guest list of faces familiar to his films, especially greatest hits like Talk To Her, All About My Mother, The Skin I Live In, Volver, and Broken Embraces (all of which are recommended for the unfamiliar). Such attendees include Cecilia Roth, Paz Vega, Blanca Suarez, Carmen Machi, Javier Camara, and more. Arguably more American-popular stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz appear only in the beginning in a goofy little scene together, providing a little recognition before this story takes off to Almodovar-trademark nuttiness.
Fitting to Almodovar's odd way of doing things, this comedy is indeed preceded by its strangeness, but such wackiness never becomes all that clever. Sure, a few snickers, giggles, maybe a guffaw or two can be found throughout the interactions of his flamboyant flight attendants. Still, such comedy can't make this film float by at the light running time of 90 minutes. The aforementioned drama only provides a fleeting compelling factor of witnessing how the passengers' back-stories all chain together. In the end their tales, alone and connected, are so dull the idea of giving these characters problems doesn't even seem worth it. For the boundlessness of wackiness that Almodovar aims for, his desired lengths seems to have been cut short.
Like a memorable soiree, I'm So Excited! does have a notable soundtrack. Jazzy strings accompany the film's soapy aspects from a score by Alberto Iglesias, a regular member of the Almodovar cinematic catering crew. The film's centerpiece moment, however, is of course a rendition of "I'm So Excited" by the Pointer Sisters, as presented with sassy cabaret flight attendant choreography and in full. While it may not be the movie's funniest moment, it is a great example of the nuttiness that liberates this movie from its more serious antics. It is the type of hyper goofiness a comedy about a plane crash could use more of.
I'm So Excited! is reminiscent of that whole awkward dynamic between a movie musical and its viewer. A person paying money to occupy a room darker than the song and dance images shining before them can only sit like an abandoned concrete block and observe as other people exhibit toe-tapping gaiety in front of their eyes. The most a viewer can do in hopes of experiencing the fun of what's happening on-screen is simply to sit and concentrate even harder. This is a film more fitting for midnight screenings, quote-a-longs, and any other type of interactive activity that has tried to expand upon the cinematic experience while keeping films in their original medium. If I'm So Excited! came with a party entourage promised for every screening, or actually could only be viewed on crashing planes, then the experience of watching it would justify it being the light fun-time that it looks to be.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10