2 stars
Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar (Bad Education) returns to where he started with this brightly coloured, campy comedy that echoes the director's frivolous favourites from the early 80's. One burning question that hangs over this film is that if he was looking for a little light hearted relief after a decade of dark melodrama, what went wrong? Granted, this was never intended to win over the Academy but with a funny bone that's conspicuously absent and the possibility of satire excised from a lumpy, leaden script, I'm So Excited fronts up as neither a joyous nostalgia piece nor a deconstructionalist's dream but every bit the contractual obligation it probably is.

On board Flight 2549 to Mexico, passengers and crew are placed in a circling pattern after a phoned-in opener when airline workers Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas compromise the plane's safety. Economy class is drugged to keep it quiet while business class runs amok with a histrionic diva, a bi-sexual pilot, a highly sexed first officer, a woman determined to loose her virginity and three ultra-camp stewards who calm the chaos with mescaline spiked cocktails. It's like Flying High, without the laughs or the exuberance.

There's an unexpectedly sour tone to I'm So Excited which is what makes this mess of a movie largely unpalatable. Where one might have been able to forgive the derivative and often pointless carry on (subplots that go nowhere, narrative swings that add nothing to what passes for story), the film's glass half empty attitude thoroughly eradicates what residual verve and nerve Almodóvar might have been drawing up from his early comedies. Sex addled, drug taking, alcohol swilling hysteria had a point, a very bold point, back in 1982. Today? Not so much.

I'm So Excited is a major disappointment from the acclaimed talent which created Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and the award-winning Talk To Her. The movie's set piece, a drag inspired dance routine by three queeny stewards, is just a drag and a poor substitute for what should have been, proving that a bad film by a great director is still a bad film.


Previewed at Paramount Theatrette, Sydney, on 28 August 2013

2.5 stars
In 1988, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown introduced Australian audiences to Pedro Almodovar’s wonderful, crazy world of colour and kitsch. A quarter of a century later, his new film, I’m So Excited! is, unfortunately, a mediocre throwback to the ‘80s. It still has his signature ‘hi-gloss’ look, ably captured by veteran Jose Luis Alcaine’s fabulous cinematography full of riotous colour, plus a pretty zippy soundtrack by long-term collaborator Alberto Iglesias, but overall the film lacks any real originality and as a result is a big disappointment.

The opening scene features cameo performances by Almodovar’s old mates Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. Their lame flirting causes a mechanical problem with the aircraft they are servicing before we head off into the skies on Peninsula flight 2549, en route to Mexico. Not long into the flight the captain, Alex (Antonio de la Torre, Paco in Almodovar’s Volver) and his co-pilot Benito (Hugo Silva) realise that there are problems with the landing gear. The crew, a trio of very camp stewards, Joserra (Javier Camara), Fajas (Carlos Arecas) and Ulloa (Raul Arevalo), set out to make the journey as comfortable as possible. They feed the economy passengers a cocktail of knockout pills then try to distract the first class passengers as best they can, for this is, after all, an Almodovar situation, which is to say one that is a long way from ‘normal!’

Almodovar’s characters are a weird mob and their personalities feed the emotional chaos. There was a moment when I wondered if it may be doing them all a favour if the plane indeed crashed and put them all out of their misery. When you mix a pessimistic psychic who is upset because she may die a virgin, a dominatrix caught up in a blackmail ring, an actor who has just walked out on his suicidal girlfriend, a banker who is up for fraud and a mobster, then you know things are not going to run smoothly! And that’s only the passengers… the crew are just as sex-crazed and drug-addled. We learn that relationships between the flight attendants are highly complicated and this makes for a number of bizarre scenes that veer between moments of high camp, outrageous dialogue and full-on melodrama. These are a lot of fun at times but somehow seem a bit dated too; even the lip-synching camp rendition of the Pointer Sisters I’m So Excited is a tad embarrassing, a bit ‘try too hard.’

If this is your first Almodovar experience you may love it but those of you already familiar with the director’s work will find this a bit of a yawn. I suggest your time would be better spent digging out Almodovar’s earlier works from the DVD shop and going over them again. You’ll get a lot more excited!


Previewed at Paramount Theatrette, Sydney, on 7 August 2013

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Javier Cámara
Cecilia Roth
Antonio Banderas
Penelope Cruz

Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar

Spain (subtitles)


89 minutes

September 19, 2013
I'm So Excited! (2013) on IMDb
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