Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help you choose what to watch. This week’s pick is a new film from Pedro Almodóvar, I’m So Excited.
Sometimes, when we go to the movies, we don’t want to think, contemplate the end of the world, or see the same old plot repackaged into another movie with a numeral. We just want to enjoy some entertaining movie junk food, high on calories, low on substance, and fun for a summer evening for the grown ups. Thanks to Pedro Almodóvar, the director of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and All About My Mother, I’m So Excited delivers the season’s most entertaining surprise. With a bizarre plot, outrageous characters and an energetic pace, the film is an entertaining way for parents to escape the summer heat.
As the movie begins, we are on an airplane — if ever an airline could operate this way — headed to Mexico City. On board we meet a woman with a celebrity past, a man with a mysterious agenda, pilots who occasionally fly the plane and flight attendants who buy time until they can break out into song. While the passengers in economy are magically sedated to sleep the flight away, those in the first class cabin prepare for an unusual journey to uncertain destinations. Will the celebrity reveal her secrets? What is the man running from? And when will the flight attendants sing?
With his usual sense of humor, and magical command of timing, Almodóvar brings the lunacy to life with engaging lightness and endearing humanity. In lesser hands, the over-the-top scenario would be too much to absorb. But Almodóvar again demonstrates, as in his more serious films, that less is certainly more. He revisits all the elements of the classic Hollywood disaster films — as the doomed aircraft flies to its destiny as experts try to solve its problem — while inviting us to experience that, in the skies, good humor can be contagious.
Because this is Almodóvar at his most outrageous, however, the jokes can be edgy, the humor can shock, and the innuendoes can overwhelm. This is not a film for the family. With its overtones, parents might find themselves trying to explain what the film suggests. This is movie dessert for adults who look for more at the movies than repetition. I’m So Excited serves something fresh from the cinema kitchen of a master movie chef.
As with all Almodóvar films, the performances are a delight, from the cameo from Penelope Cruz to the deceptively complex portrayal of the troubled celebrity by Cecilia Roth. Standing out are Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces and Raúl Arévalo as the three flight attendants who would not be much help in an emergency. They essay their song-and-dance numbers with ease (in a fun sendoff of old Busby Berkeley musicals) and their one-liners with precise timing. José Luis Torrijo rounds out the cast with a creatively complex portrayal of a ruthless man who hopes to make good.
Throughout his wondrous career, Almodóvar has refused to work within any boundaries of safety. Again, he pushes his creativity to the edge. No matter your cinema tastes, this film will surprise. You won’t soon forget this flight.
Film Nutritional Value
I’m So Excited
* Content: Medium. The plot is simply an excuse for the fun.
* Entertainment: High. Writer/director Pedro Almodóvar fills his movie to the brim with outrageous humor, song and dance.
* Message: Low. As entertaining as this film is, I’m So Excited never tries to deliver a moral.
* Relevance: High. Any opportunity to laugh with a cinema master having fun in the movie kitchen is worth the price of admission.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: Medium. This is not a film for the entire family. For parents looking for a night out, it can be great fun.
(I’m So Excited is rated R for “sexual content including crude references.” The film runs 90 minutes.)
4 Popcorn Buckets