Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm So Excited: Not by a long shot

I'm So Excited (2013) • View trailer 
One star. Rating: R, for strong crude and sexual content (all verbal), and drug use
By Derrick Bang

I’m still struggling to believe that Pedro Almodóvar had anything to do with this flimsy waste of celluloid.

In an effort to distract their passengers from the dire circumstances that are preventing
the plane from landing, three flight attendants — from left, Fajas (Carlos Areces),
Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) and Joserra (Javier Cámara) — break into a hilariously
choreographed rendition of the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited." This three-minute
sequence is absolutely the only thing worth watching in this bewildering bomb.
Almodóvar, the acclaimed Spanish filmmaker who brought us Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My Mother, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Volver?

That Pedro Almodóvar? Seriously?

Hard to imagine.

Almodóvar knows better than most that cheeky, exaggerated sensuality is a magical blend of setting, sharp dialogue, camera-friendly actors who radiate lust and, yes, artful nudity (the less expected and more inappropriate, the better).

I’m So Excited contains none of the above. Worse yet, Almodóvar has abandoned his (usually) progressive Western European sensibilities in favor of stale and vulgar homoerotic jokes: the sort of tiresome one-liners currently viewed as the height of sex humor by arrested American adolescents such as Seth Rogen and the rest of Judd Apatow’s repertory company.

I’ll give Almodóvar the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he deliberately spoofs timeworn gay male stereotypes here ... but that’s not apt to mollify viewers who will recoil from his mincing portrayal of three flight attendants. Not even Liberace was this swish.

On top of which, if Almodóvar removed every dialogue reference to fellatio — spoken by men, women and genders hard to determine — I suspect his entire script would clock in at fewer than 25 words. Never have so many men, some of them defiantly heterosexual, claimed to so thoroughly enjoy wrapping their mouths around ... um, you get the idea.

This might be amusing — even hilarious — under better circumstances. But absent context or back-story, it’s just a bunch of ill-defined characters with potty mouths and overcooked libidos. Never has polymorphous perversity sounded so ... well ... dull.

This film also looks cheap, with almost all of its “action” restricted to the cramped, obviously fake-set interior of an airplane. Brief detours are taken to a) an apartment; and b) a city street. Also not what you’d call budget-busters. Production costs couldn’t have topped $1.78.

The cast looks and sounds under-rehearsed, and the dialogue is forced, unpersuasive and (from the sound of things) frequently improvised. I’m amazed Almodóvar had the audacity to claim scripting credit; I see scant evidence of actual writing.

He also opens with a tease: a quick scene between Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, leading us to hope that we’ll see more of them. No such luck. Their radiant faces — their naturalistic performances, and their obvious chemistry — vanish after a quick prologue. After that, we’re stuck with the B-Team. No, wait ... more like the P-Team.

The story then, such as it is:

Banderas and Cruz make their cameos as León and Jessica, members of the ground crew for Peninsula Airlines Flight 2549; thanks to a brief interruption, León fails to properly remove the large wheel chocks, prior to take-off.

We then join Flight 2549 during take-off, as the flight crew preps all passengers with the usual lecture about oxygen masks and seat flotation devices; this is our first glimpse of flight attendants Fajas (Carlos Areces), Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) and Joserra (Javier Cámara).

Then, whoosh, time passes. The plane is quiet, which is no surprise; everybody in coach is fast asleep, having been doped with muscle relaxants (!). For some reason, the business class passengers have been allowed to remain awake. (I guess we’d have no movie otherwise, which I’d argue would have been a good thing.)

The reason for the doping, and for the worried expressions shared by pilot Alex Acero (Antonio De La Torre) and co-pilot Benito Morón (Hugo Silva), is that Flight 2549 is in trouble. It can’t land because the aforementioned chocks have interfered with the deployment of landing gear. The intended flight to Mexico City has been canceled; the plane just keeps circling, waiting for ground-based Folks In Charge to find and then prepare a runway for an emergency landing.

We now pause, for a moment of topicality.

Almodóvar can’t be blamed for bad timing; he certainly didn’t know that his film would gain its U.S. opening mere weeks after the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. I’d like to think, however, that the folks at Sony Pictures Classics might have deemed release a wee bit tasteless, and elected to postpone. Absent that bit of prudence, we’re left with a low-rent sex comedy that would have been dreadful under the best of circumstances, but becomes even worse by attempting to mine humor from a situation that is seriously un-funny at this particular moment.

(Disney “waited” six months, until April 2002, to release Big Trouble — with its tasteless bomb-in-a-plane climax — in the wake of 9/11. That didn’t work either.)


With death a very real possibility, the business class passengers eventually confess the reasons for their trips: revelations apparently intended to be provocative and/or amusing.


Bruna (Lola Duenas), a self-proclaim psychic, frets that she may die a virgin; she can’t stop eyeing the impressive pants bulge of one fellow snoozing away in coach. A newlywed groom (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), actually a drug mule with a baggy of mescaline shoved up his fundament, pops pills into the mouth of his bride (Laya Martí) so that she’ll sleep through whatever happens next.

Gossip queen Norma (Cecilia Roth), actually a dominatrix who boasts of having slept with her country’s 600 most powerful men — while taping said encounters, for blackmail leverage — worries that this calamity is a rather ostentatious plot to kill her. Infante (José María Yazpik), a somewhat sinister fellow, keeps close counsel.

Corrupt businessman Mas (José Luis Torrijo), having fled just ahead of arrest back home, laments the ongoing estrangement from his daughter, who has embraced a provocative sexual lifestyle. Finally, soap opera star Ricardo Galán (Guillermo Toledo) has abandoned his most recent lover, while contrived circumstances bring a former lover (Blanca Suárez, as Ruth) back into his life.

Our brief sojourn with Ruth takes us back to the ground, for a subplot that appears to have been dragged in from another film. A better one, too, from what we see of it.

Back in the air, everybody gets drunk — including the pilots — in some cases will past the point of acute alcohol poisoning. That’s not funny; it’s just dumb. Inhibitions disappear, particularly after the application of mescaline-laced punch. Confessions emerge, none the slightest bit interesting. The bride demonstrates a talent for having sex in her sleep. Bruna has sex with the well-hung fellow in coach, while he sleeps.

Nobody undresses, not even a little. As Joe Bob Briggs might have groused, back in the day, we don’t even get a flash of side-boob during any of these couplings.

The film’s sole saving grace comes when the three gay caballeros — ah, flight attendants — wriggle and jiggle their way through a lively lip-synched and hilariously choreographed rendition of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” (hence the film’s title).

No doubt this scene soon will be extracted as a YouTube video, saving everybody the trouble of enduring the rest of this tawdry turkey.

Actually, I’m So Excited has one more virtue: It’s short. At 90 minutes, it’s only 87 minutes too long.

I don’t care how much you admire Almodóvar; this one must be skipped.

You’ve been warned.

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