Must-See Movies Beyond the Blockbusters
“I’m so Excited” shows Pedro Almodovar at his frothiest: shaking sex and death into a humorous cocktail aboard a plane in peril. Trust me, Almodovar takes Denzel Washington’s Oscar-bait “Flight” and does a loop-di-loop. A sober pilot? Please! It’s a job that would drive anyone to drink!
Adding a dash of star power, Almodovar discovery Antonio Banderas and muse Penelope Cruz make an early slapstick appearance as bumbling ground-crew members, who set things in motion when Leon – Banderas’ character – accidentally leaves the wheel chocks to be sucked into the landing gear.
Leon’s mistake creates a life-or-death situation on a Spanish flight bound for Mexico City. The entire movie unfolds while the crippled jetliner circles Toledo awaiting a safe runway for an emergency landing.
The comedy’s real stars are the flight-crew members, particularly the gossipy, hard-drinking gay stewards of first class (Carlos Areces, Raul Arevalo and Javier Camara).
While the coach crew and passengers snore through the danger, involuntarily drugged on muscle relaxants, the folks in first class live out a melodrama of life and death while high on booze and mescaline. Think “Lifeboat” on LSD.
With death just a runway away, the crew, passengers, pilot and co-pilot contemplate a very short future with the antic intensity of a Friday soap opera episode. A virgin takes the opportunity to have sex before she dies. The married pilot copes with his boyfriend, a flamboyant singing steward who can’t help but tell the truth with a little liquor inside him. A high-end Madame stops complaining about the service long enough to enjoy herself with a mysterious stranger.
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Almodovar exploits the potentially fatal situation to explore sex and death and the hysteria of the human condition. When faced with death you can spend your last minutes screaming and banging your head or….you can dance, dance, dance!
When, in an effort to distract the passengers, the stewards perform The Pointer Sisters’ ecstatic classic “I’m So Excited” the movie becomes so buoyant it could pop. At that moment, the fearless Spanish director may have taken the biggest risk of his career by returning to flat-out comedy that’s campy and carnal but profound.
One of the globe’s greatest living directors, Almodovar never fails to entertain. He knows how to cruise the human heart while constructing a plot incapable of crashing. Watching his movies is like following the lead of an excellent dancer. Whether the music is the complicated rhythms of “Volver,” or a disco hit, Almodovar knows how to make cinema dance.
Bottom Line: Almodovar soars in the territory between “Flight” and “Airplane.”