I'm So Excited! Carlos Areces, Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Rated R. Opens Friday.
Set almost entirely on an airplane en route from Spain to Mexico, I’m So Excited! finds Pedro Almodóvar making a strenuous, futile effort to return to the breezily transgressive comedies that launched his career back in the ’80s. There’s no end of wackiness: All of the passengers in economy class have been drugged, all of the male flight attendants are flamboyantly gay (and eager to lip-sync to Pointer Sisters songs), and all of the remaining characters experience personal crises that need to be resolved on the plane’s only working telephone, which broadcasts both sides of the conversation on the loudspeaker for all to hear. A problem with the landing gear has put everyone’s life in danger, but never fear—the pilot and co-pilot are busy drinking tequila and arguing about whether the blowjob one gave the other means that he’s bisexual.
In his carefree youth, Almodóvar was a master of absurdist, farcical plotting; movies like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown gradually accumulated mild insanity until they finally exploded. I’m So Excited! goes through the frenetic motions, but Almodóvar’s heart just doesn’t seem to be into frivolous hijinks anymore. Most gags land with a thud, and attempts at cheerful naughtiness cross the line into repugnance—a scene in which a female passenger from business class has sex with one of the drugged, unconscious men in coach would hardly seem so hilarious were the genders reversed. Such envelope-pushing was justifiable when Almodóvar clearly gave a damn; in a context this flimsy, it just seems obscene.