by Christopher McKittrick

I’M SO EXCITED! (Los amantes pasajeros) opens with a brief sequence on an airport runaway featuring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, both familiar faces in this film’s writer/director Pedro Almodóvar’s work.  However, their brief cameos only set up the main plot of the film, which is about the plane on the runaway that’s about to take off.  When the plane is in the air, it becomes clear to the pilot Alex (Antonio de la Torre), the co-pilot Benito (Hugo Silva), the head steward Joserra (Javier Cámara), and stewards Ulloa (Raúl Arévalo) and Fajas (Carlos Areces) – all of whom are either gay or bisexual and have a connecting sexual history – that there is something wrong with the landing gear.  Even if they can find a runway to attempt the landing (which proves difficult), there’s no guarantee that they will survive the impact.  When this news is revealed to the handful of passengers in first class (the passengers in coach have all been put to sleep via drugs), they began to cast away their inhibitions and reveal their deepest secrets.

Aside from the jocular title, that plot description could easily be worked into a drama like Almodóvar’s  acclaimed The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito), which starred Banderas.  However, I’M SO EXCITED! jumps several genres, though it is mostly a black comedy.  It is also has very metaphoric, dream-like and nightmare-like elements that do not reflect reality.  In fact, the film opens with a humorous title card saying, “Everything that happens in this film is fiction and fantasy and bears no relation to reality,” demonstrating that there is little in the film that audiences are supposed to take at face value.  The fact that the film culminates at the La Mancha airport – a reference to fiction’s ultimate dreamer – highlights this.

Since rules don’t apply on this dream-like flight, much of it feels like a throwback to the sex romp comedies of the late 1960s like What’s New Pussycat?, especially once the crew decides to comfort themselves and the passengers in first class with liquor and drugs.  Facing impending disaster (not unlike the current economic state of Europe), the crew and passengers decide to fiddle as Rome burns… and I mean “fiddle” in the most sexual way possible.

But that raises my main question with this film: what audience is it for?  It’s simply too weird and inconsistent tonally for younger audiences and too twisted and offbeat for adult audiences.  Sure, there are some funny parts, but though I lenjoyed all of Almodóvar’s films I’ve seen before I was left scratching my head.  I also thought the characterization of the effeminate stewards was laying it on a bit thick and reached into uncomfortable stereotype territory.  It’s simply an odd attempt at a comedy/drama hybrid that really doesn’t work in the end despite its dream-like quality.  After all, “dream-like” shouldn’t be an excuse for inconsistency or an overload of camp at the expense of quality.

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