Judge Daryl Loomis hopes one day to sit next to The Pointer Sisters on a flight.
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.
Over a career spanning more than thirty years, Pedro Almodóvar (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down) has grown considerably as a director. Always a strong Spanish talent, his early light sex comedies didn't really register too strongly with international audiences. That would change with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, one of the best women's films of the 1980s, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. While the movie won neither, notice had been taken. Over the next twenty years, his movies would grow increasingly skillful, but also increasingly dark and difficult. Accolades and acclaim grew and he has rightfully become one of the premiere figures in world cinema. But what happened to that crazy kid whose movies about cads and queens and sex delighted me so much as a teen? From the looks of his latest film, I'm So Excited!, he never really left.
Facts of the Case
Peninsula Airlines Flight 2549: a flight just like any other, filled with a motley crew that nobody really wants to sit next to. But when a problem with the landing gear is discovered, the three ultra-flamboyant stewards: Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo, Even the Rain), Joserra (Javier Cámara, Talk to Her), and Fajas (Carlos Areces, The Last Circus) must scramble to keep the passengers from rioting. Their solution may not be the best one, but getting all the passengers hopped up on tequila and mescaline at least makes them too interested in weird confessions and bisexual orgies to keep complaining.
People have gotten too used to new Almodóvar and, loving the heaviness of The Skin I Live In and Bad Education, couldn't accept that the director decided to make a trifle. I don't think he's had a worse received movie in twenty years but, personally, while I adore the movies he's made in the past decade, I find it a nice palate cleanser.
If there's anything at all serious about I'm So Excited!, it's quickly undermined by the torrent of all variety of sex jokes. I have always appreciated how easily Almodóvar mixes gay and straight cultures. That may seem obvious, but he's far from the only openly gay director making movies and, so often, they're treated as entirely different worlds. Straight directors like to leave the LGBT community as ancillary stereotypes, so they're out. For Almodóvar, though, it doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, bi, a middle-aged psychic virgin with a thing for sleeping dudes. It's all good on Peninsula 2549.
The movie's persistence with that idea might rub some people the wrong way, but he's always been like this; it's just especially flamboyant here since we haven't seen it from him in so long. But it's great fun, especially given that he now has skills that far surpass what he had when he made Labyrinth of Passion, and I'm So Excited! is a great looking movie. It starts with a lovely little scene between Antonio Banderas (Matador) and Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces) as tarmac workers in their first scene together, despite having appeared in a combined eight of the director's films. It's a nice little nod to two big stars who helped make his career and vice versa. After that, virtually everything takes place on the plane, with really only four rooms to work with. Despite that, the movie never feels claustrophobic and he doesn't have to recycle shots; it flows lightly and breezily, with gorgeous colors and nicely creative photography by Jose Luis Alcaine (Bad Education). The big scene, featuring the three stewards doing their rendition of the Pointer Sisters track that makes the title, is delightful. It's not the biggest or the best musical number out there, but it made me smile and I believe that's all Almodóvar wanted to do with I'm So Excited!, which is fine by me.
The performances really help bring out what he was trying to do, as well. They mostly come from his newer repertory of actors, and we have great turns from Paz Vega (Sex and Lucia), Cecilia Roth (All about My Mother), Blanca Suarez (Shiver), and Lola Dueñas (Talk to Her), and that's just the main cast of women. All the men are just as good, as well, from the aforementioned stewards, who are a hilarious trio, their pilot sometimes boyfriends in Antonio de la Torre (Volver) and Miguel Silvestre (The Distance), as well as Hugo Silva (To Hell with the Ugly) as a hitman with a target on the flight. All the performances are great fun and match the delirious sexuality that Almodóvar is so good at delivering.
Sony's Blu-ray for I'm So Excited! looks great, too. The 1.78:1/1080p image is gorgeous, with bright colors that are nicely saturated and good solid black levels. Detail is top-notch and the image is always perfectly sharp. The 5.1 Master Audio track is great, as well. It's a busy mix, with good spatial effects, crisp and clean dialog, and a full-sounding score by Alberto Iglesias (The Flower of My Secret).
The supplements, unfortunately, are completely disappointing, with a short featurette that is a look at the production without narration and a half-hour look at the gang on the festival circuit. Neither is particularly interesting and that's all there is; not even a trailer.
I can't recommend I'm So Excited! to just anybody, or even to any fan of the director. If you don't like his early work, find it too corny, or whatever, this has the same tone as those and you probably won't like it at all. But if you're like me and miss the days of gay nuns on drugs and oversexed bullfighters then Almodóvar's latest is a nice treat. I don't want him to return to this era of his career permanently; I'd appreciate about ten more movies like The Skin I Live In, but as a look at Almodóvar at his lightest and gayest; it totally fits the bill.
I know I want you…want you.
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