I don’t know what it says about Pedro Almódovar that, seen in a Manhattan screening room rather than in competition at Cannes or at the New York Film Festival, “I’m So Excited!” seems so much more enjoyable than his previous half dozen movies.
Actually I do know what it says: Almódovar is best as a farceur, tossing off light comic riffs without obligation to present themselves as art. “I’m So Excited!” (which opens here Friday) is a bit repetitive but it’s unashamedly frivolous and often very funny. Set almost entirely in midair on a Mexico-bound trans-Atlantic airliner, “I’m So Excited!” could be easily imagined as a stage play or even a cabaret act. It’s a sort of comic “No Exit” that seems particularly pleased to literalize the idea of a cockpit.
There’s a problem, thanks to a runway collision between two luggage handlers (Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, donating a scene) that has to be keep a secret from the passengers. Of course that doesn’t keep the crew from getting totally hammered and blurting out their various secrets and desires. The first-class cabin is heavy on baby blue furnishings and rife with colorful dope smugglers, newlyweds, blackmailers, actors, hit men, and swindlers, one of whom is clairvoyant and several of whom have hybrid identities. Still, the movie belongs to the plane’s boozing, praying, preening, camping flight attendants.
Given its emphasis on disaster sex rather than disaster, “I’m So Excited!” is only marginally more likely than “Flight” to be offered as entertainment on many commercial airplanes. If do you see it though, I guarantee that next time you fly (and the next… and the next… and the one after that), you’ll remember Almódovar’s crew and think back on their gallant attempt to assuage passenger panic by lip-synching and dancing to the Pointer Sisters’s early ‘80s disco smash that gives the movie its title.