It has been almost 25 years (and a few grey hairs) since Pedro Almodóvar made 'Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown', begging the question why the director has taken so long to return to comedy. In fact, he answered it quite candidly in a recent appearance on 'The Graham Norton Show' - dark films win awards. Being a ridiculously ultra-camp comedy of the highest order then, it’s unlikely that 'I’m So Excited!' will win Almodóvar any golden gongs – but it is jolly good fun.
The premise is quite simple: a plane departing Spain, due to land in Mexico, is marooned mid-air owing to a technical failure. With the plane flying in circles as it waits for a free landing strip, the crew – who are all spectacularly, gloriously gay – decide to preserve calm by sedating everyone in coach and er, ‘lightening the mood’ in business class by serving cocktails laced with mescaline. A metaphor for Spain’s current turbulent economic and political situation? Yes, but also a fantastic set-up for mile-high mischief and mayhem.
Things begin to get very interesting indeed as the drugs start to take effect and inhibitions are cast off, leading to connections being discovered between the passengers and intimate revelations being shared. Almodóvar favourite Lola Dueñas is marvellous as Bruna, the virginal psychic who can (worryingly) detect the scent of death in the cabin, bringing a tingling sense of tension to the proceedings, amidst all the debauchery – and conveniently moving the plot along in places.
Such an enclosed setting could easily have been visually dull, but Almodóvar adds interest by creating separate, distinct spaces (the cockpit, the crew area, the cabin), throwing in a couple of off-plane sequences and lighting up the screen with his trademark beautiful colours – saturated blues and reds make even the interior of the plane look sumptuous.
Full credit must also be given to the hilarity of the script, which is full of laughably outrageous lines and scenarios – though given that much of these jokes revolve around sex, drugs and dubious blowjobs, the humour may not be to everyone’s taste, to put it mildly. The comedy is played up brilliantly by the camp cabin crew, with Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo and Carlos Areces bouncing off each other with as much fizz and sparkle as their drugged-up cocktails. The musical dance number – which gives the film its name – is priceless.
Whilst 'I’m So Excited' is certainly not Almodóvar’s best work, at times feeling a little bit haphazard – and, to be blunt, ‘what did I just watch?’ crazy – it’s also extremely funny. A very Spanish, quirky comedy with lots of cojones.
'I'm So Excited' is in UK cinemas now, through Pathé.