There’s the ever-present sense that Pedro Almodovar’s latest film is little more than a collection of B-sides, small stories and afterthoughts that are loosely connected as vignettes rather than a cohesive plot. I’m So Excited! is surprisingly self-contained and less ambitious and traditionally structured than much of his previous work. (It’s almost as if Almodovar wrote the film as a play and eventually thought better of it.) Because of this, the results feel a bit pieced together and occasionally uneven. Despite these flaws, I’m So Excited! still works because it’s Almodovar at his most playful, making a film that’s odd, goofy, in bad taste and with zero concern for coherency.
Almodovar has always made absurd melodramas that have managed to find crossover appeal in art houses, but this time he fully and unabashedly embraces soapiness. This means a lot of people aren’t going to be on the film’s wavelength (judging by the sparsely attended Saturday-evening show I went to, they already aren’t), but I kind of loved it. It’s a flick I already see growing on me. I’m So Excited! is innately a mess, as Almodovar shoves a bunch of characters into the plot and lines up the star-crossed stories one after the other.
We’ve got the usual cast of ridiculous Almodovarian types — a trio of gay flight attendants, one of whom (Javier Camara, Talk to Her) is dating the married, bisexual pilot (Antonio de la Torre, The Last Circus); the co-pilot (Hugo Silva), who swears he’s heterosexual, but has experimented with men “just to make sure”; a dominatrix (Cecila Roth, All About My Mother) who pleasures Spain’s most powerful men; a virginal psychic (Lola Duenas, Broken Embraces); and a newly married drug mule (Miguel Angel Silvestre), just to name a few. They’re brought together in the business class of an intercontinental flight that’s possibly doomed, thanks to a busted landing gear (broken, in a nice touch, during an early cameo by Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz).
This being a Almodovar picture, the fear of mortality translates into sex, drugs and musical numbers. Inherent in the nature of a movie like this, some of the stories work better than others. The film works best when focusing on the campy crew and their various sexual entanglements, scenes that are quick-witted and filled with clever dialogue and turns of phrase that are so often missing from modern comedies. This causes other scenes, like the love triangle involving a Spanish soap star (Guillermo Toledo) to bog down the pace of the film, though this is made up for by a most poignant ending.
The film seems to take place in some alternate universe with little use for anything akin to reality (this is, after all, a plane whose entire coach class is drugged to sleep solely for the purpose of supporting the plot). This aspect — along with the movie’s frank sexual and drug-related nature — is likely to irk a lot of moviegoers. Of course, if you’re looking for realism and innocuous content, you probably gave up on Almodovar long ago. Taken as a whole, I’m So Excited! works because — in Almodvar’s hands — it’s clever and fun and contains a surprising amount of heart for such a silly movie. So many films simply forget to be entertaining. Here, it’s Almodovar’s only goal. If you think “self-indulgence” is a dirty word, then please stay away. For everyone else, go forth and enjoy. Rated R for strong sexual content, including crude references, and drug use.