Film | Nathaniel Rogers | News | Pedro Almodóvar | Review

Weekend Movies: 'I'm So Excited' and 'The Heat'

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meet our friendly eager crew-ewww ♫ They only live to service you-ooo 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Here's a film you'll never see on an airplane. Pedro Almodóvar's latest, I'M SO EXCITED!, takes place (almost) entirely aboard an airplane like some lost "bottle episode" of an aborted Almodóvarian sitcom. But the stewards and pilots are less concerned with fastening your seat belt than unzipping your pants and more interested in spiking drinks than pouring them. It's arrived just in time for Gay Pride Weekend and what great timing; this is by far the gayest thing Pedro has done since Bad Education (2004) in which Gael García Bernal famously both tucked his junk for drag duties and showed it off in wet underwear poolside.

I think it was the internet critic David Poland (of Movie City News fame) who dubbed that earlier film "fag noir" and took some heat for that but I personally don't think Almodóvar would have minded. In fact, for a long time I miscredited the tag to Pedro himself. Pedro's characters are often outrageously hedonistic from nympho nuns to homicidal hotties to transgendered hookers and even the sanest among them act on melodramatic or comic impulse without shame or apology. In short, to appropriate a quote from Rich Juzwiak they're 'as faggy as they want to be'. And that's just the ladies!

I bring up this divisive language because Almodóvar, despite his celebrated global rise as a world class auteur -- those Oscar wins for All About My Mother (1999's Best Foreign-Language Film) and Talk To Her (2002's Best Original Screenplay) in the early Aughts marked his peak -- has never and will never win fans among the easily offended or anyone who flinches at the queeniest moments in gay pride parades. 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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But for the rest of us his consistently stunning filmography (so many classics from Law of Desire through Volver) makes each new film a "Must-See". Yes, even a quickie toss-off like this one. I'm So Excited is on the surface a comedy about a very negligent horny flight crew and a secretive batch of first class passengers but it's also a satirical riff on Spain's economic crisis. Political satire is a difficult genre when it comes to subtitles so this is unlikely to please everyone. Still, it's Pedro's first straight (not in the heterosexual sense) comedy since, well, forever and that has to be noted even if it feels inevitable since Broken Embraces (2009) was, at least in part, the story of a blinded director trying to make a comedy that looked suspiciously like Women on the Verge of a Breakdown (1988), Pedro's international breakthrough. Pedro may have have entered a weirdly self-referential holding pattern in his career but if so he's earned the right. 

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Though I'd love for EVERYONE to see it (someone's gotta support the true artists of cinema or everything but superheroes will one day be VOD only) I'm So Excited! will, in the end, probably be regarded as little more than a curio throwback to the director's outrageous early days. The critics screening I attended was mysteriously quiet but critics are difficult to read at comedies (were they LOLing without the OL part?) and comedies are ALWAYS funnier with a full paying crowd. Don't get "So Excited!" for Pedro's most famous muses Penélope Cruz & Antonio Banderas who only have cameos (for their 5th and 7th Pedro film, respectively) but do prepare yourself for the titular song. The airline stewards do a choreographed routine. In full and in full fabulousity from first 80s synthpop beats to the "look what you do to me" repeat fadeout.

 

THE HEAT
If your taste in shamelessly outrageous comedy runs more mainstream or if you just need 27 more minutes of air-conditioning (why are American comedies so f'in long?) the big ticket this weekend is THE HEAT starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Bullock plays a very smug and uptight FBI agent and McCarthy plays a loose cannon cop who'll catch her criminals by any means necessary. It's hate at first sight but they learn to work together. If that description screams 'Every Odd Couple Buddy Cop Comedy Ever!,' than you already know if you could handle seeing another, only with funny ladies and spanks jokes this time.

In its own way its as offensive as I'm So Excited (one ongoing joke involves a dealer who thinks McCarthy is racist and she takes him down with... no, I can't even type it!) and though it's a fast fade there are quite a few laughs, most of them courtesy of what feels like The Melissa & Sandy Improv Hour. The film is directed by Paul Feig who held the reigns on Bridesmaids and though this one isn't fit to stand in that wedding party, it's ratio of minutes to laughs is fairly good and McCarthy really brings it. At the very least it's a thousand times funnier than McCarthy's weirdly joke-free Identity Thief which was an inexplicable blockbuster earlier this year. I'd warn you to stay through the credits for the funny punchline to an ongoing Sandra is a Crazy Cat Lady joke but the film is too nervous that you'll be running out already and only lets a couple credits fly before selling it.

Theheat-danceduo


Nathaniel Rogers would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

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Comments

  1. Re: Los amantes pasajeros--Every person with whom I have spoken who has seen it, Spaniard or otherwise, has said this movie is an absolute atrocity--not funny, edgy, or fresh in any sense. And given my reputation as an extremely masculine, extremely educated gay man with exquisite taste in cinema, all friends and acquaintancs were surprised that I would even think of seeing a film like this. They urged me not to even consider it.

    Based on the trailers, and a couple of interviews that I've seen with Almodóvar regarding the film, as well as several reviews from bona fide movie reviewers (not merely some internet fag-rag intern) Los amantes pasajeros sadly sounds like a sell-out from a once-interesting filmmaker whose creative juices are greatly on the wane. The director can try to manage expectations for this movie by passing it off as satire, but cheap throwaway summer piffle from Almodóvar is neither art nor cinema.

    Recommendation: Pass

    Posted by: Rick | Jun 29, 2013 7:06:10 PM


  2. I'm confused. Did you actually see it? I hope so because Almadovar deserves better than "pass" because of what you heard somewhere.

    Posted by: Steve Sando | Jun 29, 2013 7:16:00 PM


  3. Thanks fake "Rick"

    It's a wonderfully funny comedy. Don't miss it.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 29, 2013 7:18:46 PM


  4. Rick, I think you may be extremely full of it.

    Posted by: Don | Jun 29, 2013 8:27:33 PM


  5. Of course Rick thinks its a compliment that one is perceived to be masculine. How predictable. How ridiculous. How pathetic.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jun 29, 2013 8:55:13 PM


  6. Yeah, being masculine actually add one credential being a film critique. Excuse me while I don my boxing gloves and have a few spars with some of my straight friends.

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Jun 29, 2013 9:07:01 PM


  7. I discounted everything "Rick" said right off the bat but I can say that I'm one of those gay guys who flinches at the queenliest moments - more than that I lose real interest in the film altogether. I recently spent several days tracking down a gay themed comedy that turned out to be just another poorly written over acted cliche filled dud. Gay comedies are few and far between.

    For some reason the gay community believes all gay people should look and act like the three guys in the image above (who only live to service yooooo...). I am a big hoarder of decent to good gay themed movies but "I'm So Excited" is one I'll have to pass on.

    Tomorrow is gay pride in San Francisco and 1.5 million people are expected to converge on this little town. The Supreme Court rulings have changed the atmosphere here among everyone, gay and straight. I hope that change moves across America. We've come of age and the flaming queen has grown up to 30-40 something regular guys.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Jun 29, 2013 10:33:45 PM


  8. A real shame if he has.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 29, 2013 10:57:50 PM


  9. I guess some of us gay folks are still not evolve. Effemiphobia is alive and kicking. The closeted gay right wingers already did enough damage to our community and now comes the self loathing "out" gays?

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Jun 29, 2013 11:14:27 PM


  10. Who cares what the A-List fags and the PC-Police think?
    The true joys of gay camp are lost on them.
    I can't wait to see it. I love his films, some more than others.
    Of course, they're enormously better in Spanish than English. That's often a flaw in comedy.

    Posted by: enough already | Jun 30, 2013 9:59:08 AM


  11. I think it might be more the case, rather than effemophobia, many of us are just finding drag, effeminacy, and flaming queens a bit tired and boring. Imagine a 30-ish woman acting like a 12 year old Valley Girl, funny for a few moments, but as a life long role? I'd really rather talk to someone else.

    Posted by: hamish108 | Jun 30, 2013 10:01:46 AM


  12. And we'd rather talk to someone other than you, Hamish.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 30, 2013 10:31:01 AM


  13. @Mike Ryan, its not that the gay community believes that all gay people should look and act like these guys. The gay community I belong in is pretty diverse. Those of us who are comfortable with our sexuality are comfortable with drag queens or leathermen or muscle bears or even just buttoned down average joes like myself. I like comedy when it is funny, not just when it is gay. Not just when its fey and mincing. Yours and Rick's comments often sound like one of those "doth protest too much" str8 guys who secretly wants to put on some heels and then point those heels toward the ceiling.

    Posted by: Jerry | Jun 30, 2013 10:42:32 AM


  14. Almodóvar films are can't miss. I will see this one.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jun 30, 2013 11:03:37 AM


  15. if you're a grown man who still "flinches" at...uh... "queenly" stuff, then you're a wuss. stop wasting your lives looking over your shoulder worrying what The Straights are thinking about you.

    it makes you come across as complete wimps.

    on film - Yay, Almodovar! His films used to air late at night on Showcase when I was a teen, and it's through them that I actually caught my first glimpses of on-camera carnality.

    Sexuality through the prism of Almodovar = BLISS.

    can't wait to see it. a return to comedy is most welcome.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 30, 2013 11:24:26 AM


  16. The trailer tells me that this movie could’ve been funny 20+ years ago; when the easiest way for a (still greatly homophobic) society to accept a gay was to be the stereotypical clownish shameless character. You were excused for being gay as long as you deprecated yourself with homophobic jokes stressing stereotypes while you showed that you knew your lower place in society. Then you were forgiven, as there was no danger that anyone would find “that” appealing or serious as to, don’t know, ask for equality under the laws. As an entrance to make a very machista society to have a first look at gay people was good –better that than nothing- but those years are gone. That is not funny anymore. There are more intelligent ways to be be funny.

    Posted by: SAYTHETRUTH | Jun 30, 2013 1:07:19 PM


  17. To the poster above using my name:

    I find your obsession with me to be about as stale as Almodovar's frenetic storylines and screwball jokes. Also, my vocabulary is NOT limited to words like 'pathetic' and 'ridiculous'.

    Having seen the film this weekend, I actually agree with Rick's assessment of it, and I have always been an admirer of Almodovar. I've seen most of his films more than once, but this one simply wasn't funny. So he mailed one in. Skip this one and see the next one. You know he'll have another film out in exactly 22 months, so just wait and hope for better results. Almodovar usually delivers.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jun 30, 2013 3:24:24 PM


  18. I love clever, queeny satire and high camp; I love 99 percent of everything Almodovar has done. "The Skin I'm In" was one of the best ever, one of the smartest and most entertaining films I've ever seen. Law of Desire remains a turning point in the history of cinema, not just gay-themed.

    I'm So Excited is tripe. Total throwaway. Queeny-ness without cleverness is just boring-ness, sorry guys. Maybe something was lost in translation, but this movie seems pointless and could only have been made by someone who's past successes enable any next project, however lame. Even setting aside the over-the-top and what's-the-point stereotyping of gays, the character development in this film is so cliché, it just leaves you perplexed. A bunch of bitter or repressed people get on a plane, are unwittingly (and nearly inexplicably) fed mescaline by a trio of beyond-stereotype effeminate gays, have an orgy for no particular reason - and they disembark having a renewed - but obviously superficial - warmth in their souls, ready to reunite with estranged daughters and lovers. Y.A.W.N. To call this film cartoonish is to denigrate Bugs Bunny.

    I'm just hoping Almodovar was playing a joke on us, and will get back to making masterpieces in the near future.

    Posted by: Erik Seege | Jun 30, 2013 7:00:15 PM


  19. I take issue with this statement: "Pedro may have have entered a weirdly self-referential holding pattern in his career but if so he's earned the right."

    Almodovar has always been a self-referential director. It's part of the charm.

    Posted by: Sol M | Jun 30, 2013 10:55:36 PM


  20. If you didn't find this movie funny, you obviously have no sense of humor.

    "given my reputation as an extremely masculine, extremely educated gay man with exquisite taste in cinema..." Who talks about themselves like that? LOL.

    Effemiphobes need to LIGHTEN UP!

    Posted by: Ci | Jul 1, 2013 12:46:26 PM


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