It's been a good two decades since Pedro Almodóvar has attempted one of the zany farces that first put him on the world cinema map in the mid-'80s -- think movies like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Labyrinth of Passion. And while I wish I could say that I'm So Excited was worth the wait, this strained, resoundingly unfunny comedy instead emerges as one of the Spanish director's few creative misfires. Remember Woody Allen's painful mid-2000s run of laugh-free bombs like The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Hollywood Ending? Well, I'm So Excited is basically Almodóvar's Jade Scorpion -- a trip down memory lane that leaves you wishing the filmmaker had never tried to go home again.
In classic farcical tradition, I'm So Excited takes place almost exclusively in a single setting -- a Mexico-bound commercial airplane staffed by a wacky crew of flamboyant flight attendants and filled with some very eccentric passengers. (How wacky is the crew? Wacky enough to slip muscle relaxants to the entire economy class cabin upon takeoff, knocking those folks out for the duration of the flight and leaving them with only the business class passengers to service.) No sooner is the plane in the air than the first bit of bad news emerges from the cockpit: due to a technical failure, they won't be making it across the Atlantic to their Mexican destination. And if that's not serious enough, there don't appear to be any open runways on which they can land.
With death now not only looking possible, but also very likely, the occupants of Peninsula Flight 2549 come up with various ways of distracting themselves. For example, the three flight attendants (Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces and Raúl Arévalo) bitch and bicker amongst themselves, while self-proclaimed psychic Bruna (Lola Dueñas) devises a way to finally lose her virginity before meeting her maker. Elsewhere onboard, brittle tabloid queen Norma (frequent Almodóvar player Cecilia Roth) gets friendly with a Mexican hitman (José María Yazpik) and a middle-aged lothario (Guillermo Toldeo) uses the airplane's only working phone and gets in touch with his two girlfriends on the ground (Paz Vega and Blanca Suárez).
As you can probably tell, I'm So Excited has more than enough characters and storylines to fill its confined space. What the movie lacks, however, are belly laughs, hearty guffaws or even mild chuckles. And while's possible that the humor simply got lost in translation, this feels more like a case where Almodóvar felt compelled to stick to his movie-every-two-years schedule (in the same way that Woody Allen keeps churning out a movie a year) and ran with this idea even though it was, at best, the kind of thin sketch relegated to the post-Weekend Update section of Saturday Night Live. No doubt his intention was to flesh it out with his cast on the set, but based on the finished product, that collaboration didn't bear fruit. I'm So Excited strains for a freewheeling anarchy that comes across as artificially manufactured, and its forced jocularity is at best awkward and at worst pitiable to watch. The good news is that Allen eventually emerged Jade Scorpion period, so here's hoping that Almodóvar's follow-up to I'm So Excited is a lot more like Match Point and a lot less like Hollywood Ending.
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