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Spanish director flies the fluffy skies

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From left, Ra��l Ar��valo, Carlos Areces and Javier C��mara.

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From left, Ra��l Ar��valo, Carlos Areces and Javier C��mara.

A delicious irony infuses this Pedro Almodóvar comedy.

In his native Spain, Almodóvar has fought the good fight to keep the woman's melodrama alive with gorgeously produced, female-centric efforts such as Volver, Talk to Her and Broken Embraces.

With I'm So Excited, Almodovar gifts himself with a premise straight out of a big-budget Hollywood melodrama along the lines of Airport.

An intercontinental flight carrying a variety of passengers -- one is famous, one is notorious, one is eccentric and one is a criminal -- is en route from Madrid to Mexico City when the landing gear fails. Suddenly, passengers and crew must face the fact they may not live to see their final destination.

From that, Aldomóvar perversely skips the melodrama and concocts a frothy, campy comedy, giving us the director at his most madcap. The prelude offers an explanation as to how the landing gear was tangled: the ground technician was distracted by his beautiful pregnant girlfriend (fun cameos supplied by Almodóvar stalwarts Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz). While airborne, the situation comes to the attention of the plane's bisexual pilot and co-pilot -- yes, they're both bisexual -- and filters to the first class, ultra-gay flight attendants, Joserra (Javier Cámara), Fajas (Carlos Areces), and Ulloa (Raól Arévalo).

They surreptitiously drug and sedate the second-class passengers amd crew, a strategy that apparently serves Almodóvar's prejudice that only people rich enough to afford first class will be interesting to the movie audience.

Well, they are kind of interesting at that.

Bruna (Lola Dueñas of Volver and Broken Embraces) is a virgin psychic who can't intuit how this crisis will resolve, but she knows she would like to lose her virginity before it does. Norma (Cecilia Roth of Labyrinth of Passion and All About My Mother) is a former madam who has collected a library of incriminating evidence against Spain's most rich and powerful.

Mr. Más (José Luis Torrijo) is a disgraced CEO who is facing prosecution, but in this life-and-death situation is haunted by his alienation from his daughter, who now works as a dominatrix.

Ricardo (Ricardo Galán) is a playboy movie star whose efforts to make amends to a girlfriend have strange repercussions down below.

A musical interlude in which the flight attendants lip-synch the Pointer Sisters titular tune is a cue that none of this film's plotlines was intended to be taken seriously. Consider this is a light, silly, pansexual summer comedy that has just managed to squeak into theatres before sombre September has its way with the calendar.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2013 D6

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Updated on Friday, August 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM CDT: corrects accented characters

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