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  I'm So Excited! Plane Failing
Year: 2013
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Laya Martí, Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo, Nasser Saleh, José María Yazpik, Guillermo Toledo, Lola Dueñas, Cecilia Roth, Paz Vega, Blanca Suárez
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a nearly deserted airport in Spain, there is one flight about to take off and head for Mexico, but as the ground crew are preparing it, one of them (Antonio Banderas) catches sight of his wife (Penélope Cruz) driving by: she smiles his way and doesn't notice a porter who she knocks over, scattering the luggage. She has to stop and make sure he is all right, but as the three of them talk it emerges she is pregnant and was keeping this from her husband; he is delighted but has some abrupt words for the porter who is tweeting that he is bleeding. This would be a minor incident but for one thing: the chocks from the wheels have not been entirely cleared...

I'm So Excited! was writer and director Pedro Almodóvar's return to comedy after one of his most acclaimed and serious films in The Skin I Live In, with the result that many audiences, even his army of loyal fans, regarded it as a piece of fluff in comparison and not really up there with his most incisive work. But it did have some acclaim, not as much as he had been used to in recent years but some nonetheless, especially among those who recognised he was not spoofing some Airport movie from the seventies here, which after all were always teetering on the brink of self-parody anyway, but using the dramatic device of the aeroplane to craft a metaphor for the way he saw Spanish society.

At the time it was shot, the nation this film (otherwise known as Los amantes pasajeros in its native tongue) belonged to was labouring under an economic disaster, much like all too many European countries, but Almodóvar sought to make specific comparisons with the manner his country had made dire financial mistakes, such as building airports nobody needed as seen at the beginning of the story, and his invented aerial crisis. For most of those who saw this not up to speed with the finer points he alluded to, I'm So Excited was a mere bauble, hammering breezy sexual humour into the ground with the more serious scenes (Paz Vega trying to commit suicide, for example) passing them by as they awaited the next blowjob joke, but it was nevertheless more textured than given credit for.

Whether it was a success artistically was another matter, as there may have been a good few laugh out loud moments depending on your tolerance for the flamboyant stewards and their antics, but it could have been the director was so intent on making statements that he neglected his stronger elements. What was impossible to ignore was that he depicted the passengers as the Spanish public, and for those not in business class, the sort of person running society, they found themselves drugged with sleeping tablets and dozing through the shenanigans unfolding nearer the front of the plane. Was Amodóvar really telling us the ordinary Spaniard in the street was kept so oblivious to the issues that they might as well have been unconscious?

A touch overstated, but he wasn't aiming for subtlety here, and before long we realise those in charge are more concerned with staying high in a druggy sense than they are with keeping the plane up above the clouds. They must land eventually, come back down to earth with a bump if you like, and that's where the problems arise: put the blame on Antonio Banderas because it was he who accidentally allowed the landing gear to be blocked by those chocks and now they cannot get back to the Mexican airport without potentially crashing. So what do they do? Do they set about solving their problems or do they take even more narcotics and alcohol and proceed to shag each other senseless? Well, it's a bit of both, but the latter helps to cancel out the panic of the former as the melodrama plays out among the passengers and crew much like a campy yet more explicit soap opera. If you got the idea of what Almodóvar was trying to achieve you'd find more depth than apparent on the surface, but even then he was being a bit laboured. Music by Alberto Iglesias (and yes, they do dance to that tune).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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