I'm-So-Excited

After last year’s deliciously twisted The Skin I Live In, Almodovar keeps it fun and frothy in his latest, the 747-set I’m So Excited. Of course, the Spanish Master doesn’t exactly do fluff, and this tale of a fateful flight and its motley crew of passengers and staff is chock full of the director’s characteristic wit, insight, and penchant for showing humanity in all of it’s sloppy grace. While it might not deliver the meaty drama of All About My Mother or Talk to Her, a stellar cast and a genius’s light touch make I’m So Excited a laugh out loud romp that still packs a punch.

Flight 837 has just taken off from Madrid, Spain, for direct service to Mexico City. On board is your seemingly average mix of families, couples, and singles, most of whom will spend the trans-Atlantic flight sound asleep, dreaming of their destination… that is, if the plane doesn’t go down first. On the bright side, despite it’s glaring safety deficiencies, this particular aircraft is serviced by three sassy, seen-it-all fight attendants with a penchant for gossip, club drugs, and a certain little ditty by the Pointer Sisters. Able bodies professionals, these guys are determined to keep their passengers and co-workers calm and collected. Now, if only someone will do the same for them.

In lesser hands, this gimmicky premise might have played as Gilligan’s Island in the air, but Almodovar’s gorgeous style and signature insight into interpersonal relations elevates I’m So Excited above simple camp or situational humor. He allows his characters’ humanity to seep out through their struggles, urges, and foibles, diving into the lives of this madcap party with characteristic gusto. It’s no surprise that secrets can isolate and alienate us from others, but it’s refreshing to see this topic handled in such a humorous, entertaining, and ultimately real way. Though would we expect anything less from the auteur?

As the three sexy stews, Carlos Araces, Raul Arevalo, and Javier Camara are a fierce and funny cinematic trio to rival the boys from Priscilla. Yet just like those Queens of the Desert, these friends and coworkers are more than just clichés and each actor excels at showing the grit behind all of the fabulosity. Frequent collaborators Cecilia Roth and Lola Duenas also bring their copious gifts to vital roles, while old faves and friends, Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Paz Vega add some star power in small but effective cameos.

Though perhaps not an instant Almodovar classic, I’m So Excited marches to the beat of its own hilarious and surprising drum. Featuring another cast of deliciously flawed and quirky characters, brought to life by some of the best Spanish actors working today, this film is the perfect antidote to the summer glut of big budget action and comic book flicks. There simply  is no director out there who routinely takes the risks that Almodovar does, and this quirky little gem is surefire proof that no one pulls it off quite like The Spanish Master either.