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14 May 2013

Lost Above La Mancha

I really enjoyed Pedro Almodóvar's last movie, The Skin I Live in, even though it was more than a little dark and plenty creepy. With his new film, Los amantes pasajeros (I'm So Excited), he is trying something completely different. In fact, about the only thing I'm So Excited has in common with its predecessor is the partially overlapping cast, and I'm not sure Antonio Banderas's brief, one-scene cameo with Penélope Cruz at the start of the former really counts. I didn't plan to see I'm So Excited at all, after the middling reviews and, after seeing the trailer, I didn't think it was my kind of film, but BB wanted to see it, so off we went.

The plot is somewhat incidental, but involves a plane bound from Toledo to Mexico. Soon after take-off, the pilot (Antonio de la Torre) realises that there is a problem with one of the wheels (thanks to the shoddy job done by the ground staff, played by Banderas and Cruz) that will make landing the plane nigh-on impossible. Meanwhile, the newspaper headlines suggest that a big bank fraud may also be causing problems with many of Spain's airports. The world's campest stewards (Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces and Raúl Arévalo) decide to drug the economy-class passengers and stewardesses with muscle relaxants, because it's bad enough to be travelling cattle class, without them panicking about impending doom. Meanwhile, in business class, we have a motley crew of dominatrices (Cecilia Roth), actors (Guillermo Toledo), honeymooners (Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Laya Martí), and other characters with shady pasts and larger-than-life, often quite insane personalities. Many of the crew are bisexual and most of them are sleeping together. It's all a bit mad.

I found I'm So Excited more fun and funnier than I expected, although most of the time I was chuckling rather than laughing, at the crude toilet humour, the easy innuendos and the cheesy puns. There were some good lines, although some felt like the writer (Almodóvar) was trying too hard. This could have been partly due to the translation and I think the subtitler did a decent job with a hard-to-translate script. BB thought the best scene was the one where the three stewards perform the titular song, I'm So Excited, cabaret-style, to try to distract the business-class passengers from the aforementioned impending doom. It was amusing, although the impact was lessened somewhat by the trailer.

Overall, it was a wacky, entertaining enough 90 minutes, but The Skin I Live in is definitely more my kind of Almodóvar film. It would have been improved by more Banderas, for sure. Perhaps my biggest problem, though, was that throughout the film, I kept thinking about how much funnier and cleverer Airplane! was. I know Almodóvar wasn't trying to remake Airplane!, by any means, but I just felt like the latter was a lot more enjoyable.

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