It’s difficult to sum up I’m So Excited neatly. On the one hand, I found it to be a ridiculous and highly entertaining, laugh out loud farce that could easily be described as nothing short of a camp as you like Carry-On film in Spanish. It really is as silly as the trailer looks. And yet, at the same time the film works because there’s more to it- in amongst the jokes and the camp, not only is there some pretty genuine social commentary about the ongoing financial problems in Spain, there’s also a storyline that I cared about. By the end of the film, I really cared about the characters and had become invested in their goings-on (as ridiculous as they were.) For me, that was what raised this film from ‘Carry-On Flying’ to the level of a laugh-out loud comedy that still manages to pack a punch of social commentary, not dissimilar in tone or style to the revered scripts written by playwrights such as Wilde or Sheridan in their time.
The whole film is based in the business class cabin of a flight on a fictional Spanish airline and focuses on the seven characters seated within. It soon materialises that due to a problem with the landing gear, there’s a good chance the flight may never make it to the ground safely however, before an emergency landing can be attempted, the plane needs to circle and wait for clearance to land at an airport safely, which takes several hours. During this time, the cabin crew decide to sedate the cattle class passengers and stewardesses and get themselves and the passengers in first class (and the pilots) blind on a cocktail of drink, drugs and promiscuity. Ridiculous, yes, but it goes without saying that this cocktail is a recipe for a highly amusing watch.
Nothing about this film really claims to be too serious, from the cartoon coloured opening credits, the token and almost entirely random appearance of Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz down to the vats of tequila making their way into the flight deck. But, there’s a fine line when dealing with such a camp, colourful extravaganza- it could easily become tiresome and empty. I like silly, sometimes but I can find it doesn’t take long for silly without substance to grate on my nerves. Somehow, for me, Pedro Almodóvar managed to completely escape this. Personally, I think there were two reasons; the carefully constructed story arc which meant the film didn’t linger on any of it’s fripperies for too long (although there was plenty of farce, it wasn’t long before something happened to keep the film moving forward) and the film’s warmth. Social commentary was ever present but mild, the stewards were camp and sexually promiscuous but kind and despite their many differences, the characters had a tendency towards open-mindedness and an attempt to understand each other and the people they get in contact with on the ground.
Ultimately, this is a 21st century farcical comedy and this means that Almodóvar can get away with more outrageousness and more scenes designed to make the audience laugh through the shock factor than many writers before have been able to be but his intentions seem to remain the same as the classics; to make the audience laugh big belly laughs and to think about the people and world they’re living in a little bit while they’re at it. And for me, quite simply, it worked.