Pedro Almodovar is known for writing and directing many very good films.
It began in the '80s, when he had a string of highly successful and critically acclaimed films (Law of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up Tie Me Down - all of which brought him international recognition). It went into the '90s, with the beautiful All About My Mother, which won him his first Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Still on a critically-acclaimed roll, in 2001 he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Talk to Her. In the last decade, his best yet, he brought us Bad Education, Volver and Broken Embraces. And in 2011, Almodovar pushed the boundaries with The Skin I Live In.
Almodovar's new film is I'm So Excited. To say it is not his best work is an understatement.
The film opens with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas as a husband and pregnant wife who work at an airport. Unfortunately this is their only scene in the film, and it all goes downhill from there. The remaining characters are the crew and first class passengers of a flight heading to Mexico City, which is unable to land because of a technical failure. So the plane has to remain up in the air until a suitable empty airport is found.
The crew consists of three very gay flight attendants. Both pilots have gay tendencies as well, with one of the pilots having an affair with one of the flight attendants, unbeknownst to his wife. Then there are the business class passengers. They consist of a clairvoyant virgin, a drug smuggling groom, a very famous madame, and a mysterious man. Each passenger gets to tell a story of why they are on the plane and what they are leaving behind, or heading towards.
Meanwhile, the flight attendants continue to camp it up, singing the title song much to the delight of the passengers, but to the horror of those of us watching. They are drug, drink and sex-crazed, and sashay around the plane like it's a runway. If all of this sounds very camp, well it is. One of the flight attendants has a religious shrine in the cabin, which he prays to when he can’t handle situations. And one of the passengers, we are supposed to believe, is an older man leaving two broken-hearted, beautiful young women behind.
And what about the passengers and flight attendants in coach? They have been drugged so as not to complain and protest about the plane's problems. And the business class passengers are wined and wined and eventually drugged as well. If things couldn't get any sillier and unbelievable, trust me, they do. When the plane is finally given the clear to land at an empty airport, I was secretly hoping the plane would crash and kill all of the people on board, just to destroy any evidence that it, and this film, ever existed.
I'm So Excited's plot has an underlying message that represents the very tough political and especially economic times that Spain is going through. The plane could crash at any moment, as could Spain's economy. Almodovar recently told Time Out, "There's uncertainty and fear (in both the film and the Spanish economy). But it's a comedy. Everything finishes well. In reality, we don't know how it's going to finish."
Perhaps Almodovar's next reality can be a much better film.