By JAMES DAWSON
Front Row Features Film Critic
Funny, frisky and fabulous, writer/director Pedro Almodóvar’s “I’m So Excited!” is the kind of feel-good dirty fun that’s both extremely naughty and irresistibly nice. Each cast member behaves badly in one way or another, but it’s impossible not to be charmed by every one of them.
After a short setup featuring cameos by Almodóvar vets Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, most of this colorfully high-flying farce takes place aboard a mechanically compromised jet in search of an emergency runway.
All of the stewardesses (as they are called here) and the economy-class passengers have been drugged. That leaves only the two pilots, a seemingly disparate group of business-class travelers and a trio of flamingly flamboyant stewards to engage in various forms of delightfully preposterous debauchery. Imagine a ridiculously ribald version of “Airplane!” crossed with a lustily licentious “Lifeboat,” add copious amounts of alcohol and mescaline, and whatever you’re imagining still won’t compare with this deliciously crazy cocktail.
The standouts in the wonderful ensemble cast are the three completely over-the-top male flight attendants. They are outrageously swishy stereotypes who would be considered wildly offensive anywhere else, but who fit right in with the zany absurdity here. Bitchy Fajas (Carlos Areces) has a portable altar, compulsively honest Joserra (Javier Cámara) is extremely overfond of tequila and Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) regrets that he only brought aboard “heroin, coke and pills.” Their choreographed “I’m So Excited” production number, energetically performed to distract the passengers from their perilous plight, is stupidly sensational.
Nearly everybody onboard possesses some sort of secret, sexual or otherwise, and turns out to have an unlikely but amusing connection with a fellow traveler. Because the only operating telephone broadcasts conversations over the plane’s speakers, everyone hears what may be the final personal calls that several passengers make.
Norma (Cecilia Roth) fears for her life because her amorous past includes liaisons with hundreds of VIPs, including “number one.” Sweet-natured psychic Bruna (Lola Dueñas) has a vision that “today I’ll stop being a virgin.” Businessman Mr. Más (José Luis Torrijo) is not nearly as respectable as he seems, and a newlywed couple (Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Laya Martí) have brought along more than their luggage. José María Yazpik is a menacingly mustachioed mystery man with connections to both Opus Dei and the Legionnaires.
Guillermo Toledo charmingly underplays his role as a remorseful movie star whose attempt to say goodbye to one lover leads to an unexpected reconnection with another. His fool-me-once former paramour Ruth (Blanca Suárez) is as sweetly vulnerable as she is vivacious.
In the plane’s cockpit, pilot Alex (Antonio de la Torre) is a family man with not-so-hidden desires, while co-pilot Benito (Hugo Silva) wonders if having sex with men makes him gay. They also seem to think that the best way to prepare for a rough landing is by drinking to excess.
Originally titled “Los Amantes Pasajeros” (“The Lovers Passengers”), this sexy and silly Spanish-fly escapade is a genuine trip that’s not to be missed.