The direct title translation of Almodovar’s new I’m So Excited is Passengers (&) Lovers (Pasajeros Amantes). While there is no way for that title to work catchily in English (I myself tried twisting it around a thousand times) it does invoke a certain “The Love Boat” vibe that would prepare the American viewer way better for what is about to happen on the big screen, vs. the Pointer Sisters reference chosen by the US distributors.
On that note, welcome to THE LOVE PLANE. Since the late 90s, Almodovar has been dwelling in the darker corners of his artistic soul. Whether it was the psycho-sexual drama of The Skin I Live In, the abuse in Bad Education, or the morbid heartbreaks of Talk to Her, not since The Flower of My Secret have his characters had any kind of real fun on the screen. With I’m So Excited he returns to his older, high-camp-comedy-melodrama-casual-sex land of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Kika and I for one, thoroughly enjoyed it.
The action takes place entirely on a plane. A plane that is en route from Madrid to Mexico City. Due to a airport kerfuffle (featuring two very charming cameos by Almodovar favorites) something went awry with the landing gear and now they are all just circling above Toledo, waiting for emergency landing instructions. Everyone in the economy class is passed out (the stewardesses gave them sedatives to relieve them from “the economy class malaise”) but the business class is getting antsy, sensing something is off. The passengers include a virgin psychic, a legendary S & M madam, a Bernie Maddoff type, a pair of newlyweds, a famous actor with a crazy ex-girlfriend and a non-crazy ex-girlfriend, as well as a host of spirit fingered flight staff just waiting to burst into song (or prayer) at the drop of the hat.
The new hour and a half is exactly what you’d expect Almodovar would imagine would happen, if a handful of (very) colorful characters were stuck in a small space together, being each other’s captive audience. Hang-ups are forgotten, sexual orientations are questioned, and the regular society rules no longer apply. This is “Lord of the Flies”, with grown ups, on a plane. Sex, drugs, sing-alongs and secrets all come pouring out of all of them, and the cast, a lo of whom you’ll remember from much more dramatic roles in Almodovar’s films, executes with aplomb.
Sure, the space constrictions are there, but no one seems to care about privacy too much. Sure, the multiple story lines don’t allow any of them to be particularly developed, but the juicy parts are all there. And sure, the tensions are high, but that’s nothing a little mescaline in your Valencia cocktail can’t cure. It is very clear that Almodovar wanted to have fun with this one, and he did. This is not his best work, and maybe not even his funniest, but as a reward to himself (and his viewers) for sticking it out for the last decade and a half in the dark, it is quite a bright light at the end of his film-making tunnel.
And, despite being not as challenging as some of his more critically acclaimed work, it is still edgier, goofier and more stylish than any American comedy you’ll see this summer. So, do it: