Jordan Hoffman June 25, 2013
It’s a crime they didn’t serve a cocktail when they showed “I’m So Excited!” No, crime just doesn’t cut it. We’ll have to paraphrase Big Edie and declaim it what it truly is, “the most disgusting, atrocious thing to ever happen.”
Pedro Almodovar’s newest, airiest film does have some sort of sociological message stirred into the mix, but it is merely an aftertaste, easily washed down. First and foremost “I’m So Excited!” is late night cabaret – funny, filthy and more than a little bit sloshed.
The cartoonishly decorated jet airliner (it’s the same teal color as Sully!) where 90% of the action takes place is the perfect stage as we literally go round and round, watching the pilots, stewards and passengers (in first class only) spill their guts and reclaim their lives. The landing gear is damaged (thanks to a goofy cameo from Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz) and as emergency crews prepare a runway, our trio of flamboyant hosts vamp for time.
Our swishy lead Joserra (Javier Camara) is honest to a fault, the tequila-guzzling Ulloa (Raul Averalo) is a force of nature and the tsking, comparatively conservative Fajas (Carlos Areces) gets a laugh each and every time he brushes the hair from his forhead.
There are shenanigans in the galley, the cockpit and among the passengers, too, each of whom react to their potential doom in amusingly nonchalant ways. As we learn of coincidences that link everyone together, “I’m So Excited” presents itself as something of a bawdy, boozy Agatha Christie-like exercise. Indeed, it does feel a lot like a “filmed play” except for one remarkable sequence at about the thirty minute mark.
Many of the passengers decide to make a call home, including “the Actor” (Guillermo Toledo.) The bright, zing-heavy tone turns far more melodramatic (though no less coincidence-prone) as we check in on the women in his life back in Madrid. It feels a bit like a preexisting short film that has been shoehorned into this movie, and in a less lighthearted frame of mind I might be tempted to throw up my hands and shout “what the hell is this intrusion doing in this movie?” Two things stopped me. One, the sequence is gorgeous and two, when you are under the stewardship of “if it feels good, it is good” it’s somewhat difficult to get up on your high horse.
“I’m So Excited!” climaxes with a magic hour lit frenzy of drug-fueled sex, but all done in, you know, a classy manner. (The costumes are too gorgeous to take all the way off.) This is a story whose focus are those who are normally on the fringes. Our heroes are gay or bisexual men. The only women with large speaking parts are a mid-50s “puma” (that’s Spanish for cougar) and a childlike, rural (and clairvoyant!) 40 year-old virgin. There’s a conventional “hottie” by Hollywood standards, but Almodovar keeps her in a doped-up, silent haze the entire time. Enough people are making movies about her, he has other subjects in mind.
Despite the fabulousness of the set and choreography (yes, there’s a musical number) I can’t emphasize enough the thick strain of delicious sleaze in “I’m So Excited!” This is very much a flashback to Almodovar’s earlier work, a love letter to the hedonism found in, say, “Pepi, Luci, Bom” and “Dark Habits.” If you have an uncle-in-law whose attitudes toward gay lifestyle is still in its “evolving” stage, a movie like this may spike the punch. This is not a palatable “Billy Elliot”-prance, this is, at times, unashamed, foul and proud. (Though maybe some shock and awe might do your uncle-in-law some good, what do I know?)
The point is, by the end we get to know and like everyone on board – even the nefarious Mexican dude who looks like Frank Zappa – and it is time to assume crash position. The plane lands softly on a bed of foam, a perfect allegory for the champagne bubbles and lightness permeating the entire affair.
SCORE: 6.9 / 10
Categories: ReviewsTags: Antonio banderas, I'm So Excited, Jordan hoffman, Movie review, Pedro almodovar, Penelope cruz, Review, Sony pictures classics