After 2011s dark, excellent The Skin I Live in, acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar returns to the more exuberant and vivacious style of film for which he is better known. I’m So Excited! is a high jinx comedy of passenger interactions on a possibly doomed flight from Barajas to Mexico. From a washed up actress, stereotypically camp air stewards, a conniving businessman and a small town psychic to pilots yearning to explore their sexual curiosities at the worst possible time, Almodovar’s cabaret of breakdowns and sexual awakenings may be enjoyable and frenetic but is not always hilarious.
Weaving his trademark lounge kitsch with cartoon extravagance and an array of eccentric and colourful characters, Almodovar harnesses biting comedy from the tensions of the eccentric resulting in an entertaining but alienating excursion into low brow high jinx. While striving to be jovial in the context of a faux disaster picture, the humour often comes across as overwhelmingly juvenile, leaning on cheap innuendos and shock value more than the cleverly crafted dialogue.
At times the style feels not too dissimilar from the later Carry On films and the Confessions of series, yet I’m So Exited! was written as a homage to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. With irresponsible humour and frolicking stereotypes the whole affair feel flat and somewhat cheap. One could argue that this was Almodovar’s intention given the kitsch soap opera elements, exaggerated performances and the overly dramatic score which on occasion amuses, but it’s all a bit too self-referential to feel innovative. Some more down-trodden, multi-layered, realistic characters would have made for a more spirited excursion, but this is not what I’m So Excited! is about. It’s a flight of fancy, or as some critics have argued; a metaphor for the failing Spanish economy.
Considering the tantalising concept, the limitations of the setting and structure offer weak narrative foundations but Almodovar does his best to entertain. The sets, characters and routine are bursting with colour and energy but instead of weaving surreal comedy to accompany this ala Airplane! things are kept jovial via the characters’ backgrounds and their relationships. While the personality probing unveiling gossip value spice keeps the business class occupants distracted from their imminent doom, those flying economy are drugged unconscious and out of the equation, so the stewards can give their full attention to the rich folk by getting them wasted on booze and drugs and subjecting them to a camp karaoke dance rendition of the song on which the film title is based.
I’m So Excited! feels like a minor note in the Almodovar cannon, especially when compared with its startling predecessor The Skin I Live In, which saw the director break out of his norm and produce something remarkable. It would be more interesting to see Almodovar experiment further in other genres with different types of characters rather than slink back into the safety zone of the cartoon dysfunctional. And while this sub-low brow style of scattershot sex comedy is in many ways due a resurgence, it needs to be done so with a little less knowing and a stronger narrative.
I’m So Excited! is released in cinemas on 3rd May
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