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I’M SO EXCITED – The Review

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Before the age of television with half hour and hour-long anthology shows like the legendary “Playhouse 90″ and later “The Twilight Zone”, film makers attempted the multi-story anthology format for many feature-length films. They came up with several formats to connect these tales. Sometimes it was a single place like GRAND HOTEL or CALIFORNIA SUITE. Or perhaps it was a big event like DINNER AT EIGHT or the more recent NEW YEAR’S EVE. Another very popular setting for these short stories is a mode of transportation, or even better, a mode of transportation that is facing certain doom. Of course there’s the historical ones like THE HINDENBURG and the many versions of the Titanic sinking. The most popular may be the airborne anthologies. But before the AIRPORT series began, there was the very melodramatic HIGH AND THE MIGHTY where a different story of heartbreak occupied every seat. Now the Spanish master of “magic realism”, Pedro Almodovar, is ready to take a crack at this dramatic staple with I’M SO EXCITED. Can he reach the heights of that 50’s John Wayne classic or will he hover closer to the heady hijinks of 1980’s AIRPLANE!? Better buckle up for a very bumpy flight.

The Peninsula flight from Spain to Mexico seems to be going off without any problems. The economy flyers and their stewardesses are fast asleep thanks to some beverages spiked with muscle relaxants. Three flamboyant male flight attendants are busy getting plastered, gossiping, and attending to their first class passengers. There’s a perky, twenty-something psychic who’s eager to lose her virginity as she wings her way to Mexico to help in a missing persons case. There’s the spoiled, mature diva who stars in adult entertainments and is a fixture of the scandal sheets. One black-suited serious man may be part of the underworld. Another business man is fleeing a big banking scandal. A soap opera actor hopes to jump-start his career by starring in Mexican telenovelas (while escaping a few messy romantic entanglements). Oh, and there’s a young, enamored, intoxicated, attractive newlywed couple. The psychic knows something is wrong. Finally the flight’s captain and co-pilot confess to the head steward (who’s also the married captain’s lover) that there’s a problem with the landing gear, so they are circling over Toledo (Spain not Ohio…a running gag). They’ve got to find an empty runway to accommodate a very, very rough landing. Can they keep this a secret from the passengers? But, more importantly, can this motley crew bring this big steel bird down in one piece?

For the most part, Almodovar seems to be going for farce if not high camp instead of above the clouds melodrama by centering on the antics of the first class steward trio. Their scathing asides and withering looks quickly grow tiresome. The grueling lip-sync rendition to the title song is an indulgent Busby Berkley tribute that never ends. To hedge any possible lawsuits. the director begins the film by informing us that it is a fantasy. The muscle relaxant bit along with the endless parade of passengers filling the cockpit like the stateroom scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA should make the very clear. It’s a shame that it’s not an entertaining fantasy. The cast does their best to try a bring some life to the clichéd situations, but most of the attempts at real human drama are so ham-fisted and forced that we feel as though we’re stuck in  a cheesy 70’s TV rip-off of a Hollywood disaster flick. That’s the case until we get another barrage of dialogue filled with riffs on confused sexual identity. Two of Almodovar’s biggest stars do make a brief appearance, but they wisely exit before most of the mind-numbing shenanigans ensue. Some of the strutting, mugging performers looks as though they’re having a lot of fun, but we feel as though we’re stuck in a sleazy road house talent contest after the exits have been locked. As they said during the rationing days of WWII, “Was this trip really necessary?”. Buh Bye!

1 Out of 5 Stars

I”M SO EXCITED screens exclusively in the St. Louis area at Landmark’s Tivoli Theatre

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Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.

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