I’m So Excited is prefaced by the notion that the film is a fictitious account, with no semblance to reality. It’s an odd and unnecessary disclaimer provided that this is the director of such lavish pieces of dramatic camp and horror like Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and The Skin I Live In. Yet even the film’s Spanish soap-opera opening involving cameo appearances from Almodóvar regulars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz bares a jarringly regressive sense of humor from the director. Feeling more akin to his early 80s work while possessing the beautiful rigid formalism of his most recent work, I’m So Excited , Almodóvar’s 20th film, brings the director back to his roots.
Keeping a secret is a lost art in Pedro Almodóvar’s newest film as characters openly reveal their deepest in this alternate universe of a film. Largely set in the cockpit and first-class corridor of a plane headed to Mexico, Almodóvar juggles the neurosis of up to ten characters. Featuring a flamboyant triad of male stewards, the secret that the plane’s landing gear has been compromised is divulged as a non sequitur in the midst of discussions on blow jobs and bi-curiosity. As the cockpit is invaded by others on the flight, including a middle-aged virgin psychic named Bruna (Lola Dueñas, another Almodóvar regular), the screwball pacing of the film’s narrative is something of a dizzying frenzy.
Yet Almodóvar keeps everything in check, displaying impeccable comic instincts that some may have forgotten in the wake of his more serious work like the aforementioned The Skin I Live In and Volver. Recurring gags involving a sedated economy class section and the plane’s faulty telephone that broadcasts conversations over the plane’s sound system provide ample humor. And the three central stewards’ efforts to keep their remaining passengers happy and distracted give way to a cabaret rendition of The Pointer Sisters “I’m So Excited” - a visual and comedic highlight. This delightful sense of camp, astoundingly, is underpinned by the idea that indeed, the plane could come crashing down at a moment’s notice.
Almodóvar’s masterful command of this material is expected. Being his 20th film, his work has been remarkably consistent, though it’s only been his more serious dramatic efforts that garnered him critical adoration in the late 90s/early aughts. This wacky return to his roots, perhaps most reminiscent to the flamboyance and sexual politics of Law of Desire, may suggest regression, but it also marks a more loose and playful effort. I’m So Excited may lack urgency, but the art-house director doesn’t demand it. Instead, it’s something of an unrestrained free-fall of a ride that sheds dramatics for fluff. And sometimes that’s all you need.