Prepare for a crash landing
By Michael O’Sullivan
Friday, July 5, 2013
“I’m So Excited,” Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s strange and confounding new sex farce, plays like a recruitment video for the Mile High Club produced by the team behind “Airplane!,” but with all the jokes removed. Despite its plentiful and playful sexuality, this dose of Spanish fly is anything but exciting.
The director should have stuck with the original Spanish title: “Los Amantes Pasajeros.” At least that phrase, which can be translated either as “The Passenger Lovers” or “The Temporary Lovers,” is a more accurate plot synopsis. Set mostly in the first--class section of an airliner en route from Spain to Mexico, the film consists of an alternating series of random conversations and random sexual couplings among a rogue’s gallery of would--be colorful characters. Unfortunately, none of them is the least bit interesting.
Almodovar’s failure to arouse even perfunctory engagement with the story is almost incomprehensible, considering that, on paper at least, the film sounds totally wild. Let’s start with the married, bisexual airplane captain, Alex (Antonio de la Torre). He and his boyfriend, head steward Joserra (Javier Camara), are having sex in the restroom when Joserra is not tossing back shots of tequila or leading the other two gay flight attendants in a campy, lip--synced dance number choreographed to the titular Pointer Sisters hit. The word “marecon” (a Spanish slur for homosexual) gets tossed around with great frequency in the unfunny script by Almodovar, who is gay.
Meanwhile, who’s flying the plane? The co--pilot, Benito (Hugo Silva). Though he claims to be straight, Benito also gets serviced by one of the stewards (Raul Arevalo), but not before loosening up his inhibitions with a few drinks.
With all the boozing going on, it’s a good thing the plane doesn’t develop mechanical trouble. Oh, wait, it does?
Don’t worry. No one seems to care very much, least of all Almodovar, whose limp direction invests the proceedings with all the urgency of a Cleveland layover. With a running time of 95 minutes, but feeling twice as long, “I’m So Excited” is no disaster film, at least not in the traditional sense. The plane simply flies on, its passengers and crew for the most part oddly unconcerned, except for a corrupt businessman (Jose Luis Torrijo), who phones home to tell his daughter that he loves her. Another passenger (Guillermo Toledo) also chats by phone with his suicidal girlfriend (Paz Vega) and ex--lover (Blanca Suarez), who are shown back on the ground. Other than this brief excursion outside the plane, the entire film takes place in a setting the size of your living room. The economy--class section of the plane ---- where all the passengers have been knocked out with muscle relaxants, for some stupid reason ---- is almost never shown.
Considering all the sex that takes place, “I'm So Excited” also is a very, very talky film. Unfortunately, it feels like being trapped by the stranger in the aisle seat next to you who won’t shut up about his boring job while you’re trying to take a nap.
What went wrong? It’s hard to know. “I’m So Excited” misfires on so many levels ---- tiresome plot; crude, juvenile humor; broad, stagy acting and absurd characters; claustrophobic setting; and dull art direction ---- that it’s hard to imagine it was all accidental.
The most charitable interpretation of “I’m So Excited” is that it’s meant as an expansive celebration of human sexuality in the face of our own mortality. Instead, the airplane it takes place on feels like a flying sardine can stuffed with cold, dead fish.