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In ‘I’m So Excited!’ Pedro Almodovar returns to kinky camp

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‘I’M SO EXCITED!’ ★★★

Joserra Javier Camara

Fajas Carlos Areces

Ulloa Raul Arevalo

Alex Antonio de la Torre

Benito Hugo Silva

Leon Antonio Banderas

Jessica Penelope Cruz

Norma Cecilia Roth

Alba Paz Vega

Sony Pictures Classics presents a film written and directed by Pedro Almodovar. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated R (for strong sexual content including crude references, and drug use). Opening Friday at Landmark Century.

Updated: August 6, 2013 6:05AM



Early in this campy, sex-obsessed, intermittently entertaining, disaster-movie spoof by Pedro Almodovar, the captain of a crippled airliner gives his flight attendants orders on how to handle the passengers: “They have to be kept entertained and distracted.”

And the same goes for the audience, Almodovar seems to be saying with “I’m So Excited!,” a trifle compared to the director’s weightier recent efforts, but also a pleasant reminder of the joyfully kinky comedies (“Labyrinth of Passion,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) that made him famous in the ’80s.

The exclamation point and the outrageousness of the antics in “I’m So Excited!” might remind you of “Airplane!,” but it’s closer in spirit to one of that film’s inspirations, the melodrama-laden Arthur Hailey novel “Airport,” and its 1970 movie adaptation. Peninsula Flight 2549 from Madrid to Mexico City is so stoked with omni-sexual libido, it could almost be used for fuel, but there’s no shortage of drama, either, as the business-class passengers facing near-certain death confess their deepest secrets — goosed along by the alcohol and mescaline doled out by the eyebrow-arching flight stewards. The “savages” in economy class, of course, have been drugged into unconsciousness.

The problem, by the way, is that the airplane’s landing gear is disabled, thanks to an accident caused by the carelessness of two airport workers (Almodovar veterans Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz in cameo roles). They can’t land unless they can find a long, clear runway, and there doesn’t seem to be one anywhere in the country, so they’re flying in circles over Toledo, Spain, while unburdening their psyches and exercising their sexual inclinations — which are numerous and varied.

Alex, the captain (Antonio de la Torre), is a married bisexual involved with his chief steward, Joserra (Javier Camara), and his hetero-delusional co-pilot, Benito (Hugo Silva). The three flight stewards (Camara, Carlos Areces and Raul Arevalo) are gay, gossipy and cabaret-inclined, providing a highlight by lip-synching a dance routine to the title song by the Pointer Sisters.

One of the passengers, Norma (Cecilia Roth), is a professional dominatrix who’s become rich by blackmailing her wealthy clients. Another, Bruna (Lola Duenas), is a cheerful middle-aged virgin and professional psychic with her eyes on a young stud conked out in economy. We also have a much-lusted-after newlywed groom on his honeymoon (Miguel Angel Silvestri), a broodingly handsome hit man (Jose Maria Yazpik), a serial womanizing actor (Guillermo Toledo) and a worldly middle-aged businessman fleeing the country after a swindle, who’s out of play sexually, but still muy misterioso.

Fans of Almodovar, particularly those with a fondness for his earlier films, probably will find a fair amount to like about “I’m So Excited!” It’s just for fun, so into the credit column goes any little joke or bit of camp business that works — and there are plenty of them. It’s also a prime example of the light, candy-colored Almodovar aesthetic: a treat for the eyes, at the very least.

Just as Flight 2549 keeps going around in circles, though, the story has nowhere in particular to go, even when Almodovar extends his reach to the ground when the actor makes a call to two ex-girlfriends: one who drops her cellphone while attempting to jump off a highway bridge, and another who happens to catch it in her bicycle basket as she rides underneath. “I’m So Excited!” is random, episodic and essentially meaningless, but it’s also a hoot.

And if that’s all you’re looking for, you might as well get it from the master.

Bruce Ingram is a locally based free-lance contributor.



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