‘Excited’ offers wild ride in the skies

I can’t remember when, if ever, Pedro Almodovar has had as much flamboyant fun as he does in the high-flying comedy “I’m So Excited!”

The sex-and-death, musically infused airline disaster farce is staged at 30,000 feet. Much of the story unfolds in the plane’s crowded cockpit – just one of the many entendres the Spanish writer-director doubles to take an imperiled Mexico City flight to heights of lunacy.

The film is so off-the-wall, so raw, so risque, so gay, that it may come as a shock even to Almodovar fans used to his boundary-pushing ways.

Though the movie can be great silly fun, be prepared for everything to lean toward the “too too”: its retro visual style too retro; the costumes too tight; the language too crude; the drinks too frequent, too spiked; the sex too exhaustive. Even the bad lighting is a bit too bad. And the script is too loosely constructed.

No matter. The skycaps’ Broadway-styled lip sync of the Pointer Sisters’ late-disco classic that gives the film its name is thrillingly awful and totally awesome. Almodovar was brilliant to put that trio in charge of the drinks and entertainment. It is tempting to jump into the aisles and join them.

Stylistically, the extremes make for a film that is not as beautiful as Almodovar’s have been in recent years. But his choices do not seem random.

The movie begins on terra firma, baggage being loaded by a fetching ground crew of the filmmaker’s favorites – Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz making cameos. Some dizziness proves a distraction, which leads to the plane taking off with its landing gear impaired.

In short order the plane’s captain, Alex (Antonio de la Torre), and his co-pilot, Benito (Hugo Silva), are trying to burn fuel by flying in circles – another metaphor not so lightly dropped – while air traffic controllers look for an airport that can handle an emergency landing.

The entertaining cabin crew is led by head steward Joserra (Javier Camara), who cannot tell a lie and is having an affair with the plane’s married-with-children captain, so much for discretion. Fajas (Carlos Areces) is a gossip who spends a lot of time praying about other people’s sins and tossing his hair. Ulloa (Raul Arevalo) seems to believe that sex is the answer for any difficulty.

The passengers are a varied bunch. The most significant is Bruna, a rural psychic who can see death, so not the seatmate you want on a doomed flight. Made wonderfully dense by Lola Dueñas, Bruna is also hoping to lose her virginity in case this is her last chance.

“I’m So Excited!” will not stand as one of Almodovar’s defining works. But for some completely frivolous, naughty nonsense, it may be just the ticket.

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