Filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar is no stranger to oddball movies. His approach to alluringly eccentric dramas like All About My Mother, Volver and last year's The Skin I Live In put him on the map and continues to set him apart from most other directors on the market. But his newest film, I'M SO EXCITED, is baffling, silly and completely pointless.
Almodóvar opens the film promisingly enough with two of his muses, Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, who play airport handlers--and not very good ones--that learn they're expecting a child. The scene is totally unfocused and sets up nothing for the movie except its setting. Jessica (Cruz) is driving baggage to the plane, crashes the car and causes most the luggage to fall on a menial employee who is inexplicably instructed by León (Banderas) to tweet about his troubles online. It's been days since I've seen the film and I still don't know why any of this happens. And that is the general reaction to most of the movie.
It doesn't get any better when we get on the plane heading to Mexico City. We meet a whole new set of kooky characters who are equally directionless and exist solely as punch lines. They consist of two pilots and three flamboyant stewards, all of which are at varying stages of gay and flatly written, and an increasingly grating cast of first class passengers (the business class is drugged early on in the movie and therefore completely dismissed). The trio of stewards (played by Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo and Carlos Areces headline the movie, basically acting as an interactive brochure for Gay Island. Almodóvar even throws in a scene with them singing The Pointer Sisters' title song because, you know, they're gay.
The several lazy plotlines that are scattered throughout the film are hardly worth mentioning, but they range from that of a hitman, a demanding actress, a death-seeing psychic virgin (Lola Dueñas, another Almodóvar favorite), a philandering actor and a drug mule newlywed--all of whom embody the themes of sex, recreational drugs and utter mayhem among the mile high club. The plane experiences mechanical problems and is forced to hover in the air, unable to land. This eminent danger apparently leads the characters to perform their end of days routines--which consists less of self-reflection, but rather various hypersexualized and wildly inebriated attempts at indifference.
Each plot, as hastily drawn as it is (a disappointing departure for Almodóvar), strictly exists to move the film along without creating any real foundation for it. More time is spent hitting us over the heads with descriptive dialogue of the characters' devil-may-care behavior and not on the progression of their stories (which could have resonated so much more had they been developed).
Though the film features some of Spain's finest actors and actresses, including Paz Vega, whose talented goes wasted as she has nary a line in the film, I'M SO EXCITED never gets past its hollow shell. As a result, it winds up loopy and no better than a mildly entertaining sideshow act, at best. A very regressive transition for this Oscar-winning filmmaker.
Rating: D (* out of *****)
I'M SO EXCITED hits theaters June 28th. Watch the trailer below: