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Almodóvar’s low-cost comedy fails to raise a laugh

The Spanish director’s latest, an up-in-the-air farce, is overlong and self-indulgent and relies on his stock-in-trade characters.


Amantes pasajeros

‘Los amantes pasajeros’: ‘Airplane’ it isn’t.

What a shame Pedro Almodóvar’s latest flight of fancy wasn’t cancelled. Los amantes pasajeros (English title I’m So Excited) is an overlong, largely mirthless affair mostly set aboard a plane bound for Mexico City, but which we soon learn is in fact circling above Toledo because its landing gear has been screwed up by absent-minded ground staff Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.

Once purser Javier Cámara (who, as we are reminded on several occasions, cannot lie) reveals the awful truth, the prospect of imminent death prompts an outpouring of secrets from the crew and half-a-dozen business-class passengers, all of whom are straight from Almodóvar central casting: the three cabin crew are, wait for it, total flamers. The pilots aren’t gay, but of course wish they were. Of the two women, one is an ageing dominatrix and the other a virginal clairvoyant.

Airplane it isn’t. Poor old Willy Toledo, one of the few funny people in the cast, is perversely denied the opportunity to exercise his comic talent, and is instead along for the ride, and looking uncomfortable, to allow for a plot diversion down in Madrid with Paz Vega and Blanca Suárez. It just goes on and on.

There is a great deal of talking, and in case the audience misses anything, everybody’s story is backed with the kind of expositional dialogue that would earn a first-term film-school student a resounding fail.

Almodóvar attempts to give the story some contemporary relevance by including the chairman of a failed savings bank fleeing the country, while the plane eventually, surprise, surprise, makes its crash landing in the white elephant Castilla La Mancha airport.

Aside from an annoying pair of young German women who did their best to titter from the get go, more as a signal of their evident pleasure in “getting” the gay jokes, the rest of the audience sat largely in puzzled silence, seemingly waiting for a proper gag, and at best able to raise the occasional chuckle at Carlos Areces’s deadpan delivery.

One can only speculate how this rehash of stale leftovers got made: is there nobody close to Almodóvar able to tell him the obvious? Then again, maybe it was made for tax purposes. In any event, the fact that it has been released before Cannes, and has been given so little publicity suggests that this pot-boiler will soon be removed from cinemas, sparing audiences a low-cost ordeal.

‘Los amantes pasajeros’ is on general release across Spain.

The film will be released, as ‘I’m So Excited’, on May 3 in the UK and June 28 in the United States.

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Published: Mar 18 2013
Category: Culture, Featured, Films, IberoArts
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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