Monday Review: I’m So Excited!

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Here’s something you didn’t know about Pedro Almodovar: before he became the much-lauded, award-winning film director he is, he used to play in a band. And no, it wasn’t some artsy-fartsy alternative rock band known for their greasy hair and Dostoyevsky references. The group, called  simply Almodovar y McNamara, is now euphemistically described as punk. Quite what it was, you decide:

Based on the reviews, I expected I’m So Excited! to be more or less a 90-minute-long version of what you just saw, except with slightly better music, and unnecessary cameos by Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. What it turned out to be is a surprisingly neat mixture of Melancholia and the American Pie franchise, with a splash of Rocky Horror. Sounds weird? Weird it is.

The film’s characters are the crew and passengers  of a plane that is about to fall. A deeply existential study of people in the face of imminent death? Kind of. But it’s Almodovar  after all, so everyone must be gay or transsexual; a serial killer, an alcohol and drug addict, a professional dominatrix, or a desperate virgin.

It’s also a comedy  –  a Spanish comedy, to be precise, which generally indicates some macabre, some hysteria, a few 4-letter words (interesting fact: most are 4-letter in Spanish, too!), and loads of Oh-My-God-What-Are-They-On?.  And I’m So Excited! has it all… But it somehow gets away with it. Even the occasional fart joke sounds clever when thrown in by a stylishly framed man with an impeccably trimmed stubble. Or a talented middle-aged actress in a Mad Men-style dress. (Oh yes, the fashion in the film is exquisite!)

Of course, of course. It’s all a metaphor for Spain under recession: already haunted by its inner demons, now heading towards a crash, but –  instead of panicking – getting drunk, stoned and laid. And making hilarious films about gay flight attendants.

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