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Jun 30 2013

Reviews: I'm So Excited & The Heat

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

and i know i know i know i know i know i want you i want you ♫

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 sinceBad 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 (ofMovie City Newsfame) 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![more...]

Everyone gets very excited (!) in "I'm So Excited!"

I bring up this divisive language because Almodóvar,despite his celebrated global rise as a world class auteur -- those Oscar wins forAll About My Mother(1999's Best Foreign-Language Film) andTalk 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.

But for the rest of us each new film is a "Must-See".Yes,even a quickie toss-off like this one.I'm So Excitedis 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 sinceBroken Embraces(2009) was,at least in part,the story of a blinded director trying to make a comedy that looked suspiciously likeWomen 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.

Though I'd love for EVERYONE to see it (someone's gotta support the true artists of cinema or everythingbutsuperheroes 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 -- well other than myself and The Boyfriend laughing frequently -- 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,but do prepare yourself for the titular song.The airline stewards do a choreographed routine.In fullandin full fabulousity from first 80s synthpop beats to the "look what you do to me"repeat fadeout.

If your taste in shamelessly outrageous comedy runs more mainstream or if you just need 27 more minutes of air-conditioning (no judgment on the air-conditioning,but why are American comedies so f'in long?) the big ticket this weekend isThe Heatstarring 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 asI'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 onBridesmaidsand though this one isn't fit to stand inthatwedding 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 and more deftly balanced in terms of humor and heart-tugging "arc"than McCarthy's weirdly joke-freeIdentity Thiefwhich was an inexplicable blockbuster earlier this year.

Sandra and "Pumpkin"in THE HEAT

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.

Grades: I'm So ExcitedB;The HeatB-
Oscar Chances: Er no on either,but solid laughs are their own reward.IfThe Heatis a major hit maybe a surprise Globe nomination for McCarthy?

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Reader Comments (18)

Regardless of whether i'm going to find the film hilarious or not,and I did not like Identity Thief at all either,these films mean so much to me in that Melissa McCarthy is actually a movie star.She has had three major box office hits,two because of her basically.An overweight,not necessarily Hollywood beautiful woman in her 40's has become a bonafide movie star whose name carries movies.

For this reason alone,I do not begrudge their badness.I'm still just so effin pleased that McCarthy is A STAR

June 30,2013 | Unregistered Commentermorganisaqt

I hated it!Almodóvar is a melodrama guy.His best movies are melodramas,or noir melodramas.His sense of humor must not be central to his movies.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

And I don't think the movie is funny.If I want to hear gay jokes without any narrative behind them I can invite one of my gay friends to dinner and have a lot of fun.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

cal -- well i disagree.it's true that Melodrama is Pedro's forte but it's always genres filtered through melodrama.anyway,women on the verge is one of his best movies and that's a comedy!But Comedy is the most subjective of all genres so I suppose it's natural that some people wouldn't find it funny at all.I laughed quite a bit.

July 1,2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

And Bullock can still pull them in 20 years since her debut.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Yeah,it's subjective and I realize I don't respond to his comedy at all because I do hate Women on the Verge...too.

But besides that,I found the movie slow,with a strange pace.

(And that Samsung product placement,oh boy.But you gotta love Samsung for their auteur lust: Tim Burton and Baz Luhrmann are endorsing their products,and now this)

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Morgan-I agree.I love that McCarthy is now an above-the-marquee star.That she's part of the latest wave of movie stars,has two major hits on her hands this year alone,and has an Emmy win and an Oscar nomination to boot.She's so great to root for,and I saw the film,and considering the bank it's about to pull in and the somewhat strong reviews,I wouldn't be totally shocked if she added Golden Globe nominee to that awards resume.

That said,I'm hoping that all of this attention spent on her results in something else as brilliant as what she did in Bridesmaids,or perhaps a little dramatic Indy.She plays vulnerable moments so well in her films,I would love to see her take on a dramedy in some fashion.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I love Pedro,but that B seems a little bit too generous.I saw it in March and it's already blurry on my mind.All I can say is my expectations were definitely unfulfilled.I did laugh here and there,but overall as a satire on Spain's crisis is inconsistent and as a vindication of a certain gay lifestyle just out-of-date.I'm very intrigued by what's next for Pedro now.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I had a great time during The Heat.There.I said it.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

@Peggy Sue,
I agree with you.I was surprised by the B grade.I found the movie disgusting,unfunny and uninspired.A total letdown.Almodovar is too out of the world now to make a good comedy.When he was young and not that famous he could draw inspiration from people he met in the streets.Now he lives a solitary and isolated life,his words,and it shows.Also the gay-bi jokes werw dated and uncalled for.Many bits were keftover from his old movies (the crazy ex,the phone flying..women on the verge anyone?).I love Almodovar and his movies to no end,but this movie proves to be too much for me.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeisgrados

Thanks,Joey.Instead of debating the merits of franchises,zombies,vampires,rom-coms,etc.,maybe we should consider each separately and ask,"Did I have a good time?".I need to remember that,especially when I feel shame when admitting I am HUGE Fast and Furious fan (all of them!).

Besides,I am game for anything starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy,both of whom have superb comic timing.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Oh,it's all coming back to me!More thoughts on Pedro's latest:

-My favorite flight attendant is Raúl Arévalo.Which one you prefer?
-Miguel Ángel Silvestre is underused and wears too many clothes.
-Blanca Suárez is one of the worst actresses he has ever directed
-Not enough musical scenes!!!Pedro must direct one.I'm not kidding.I think he totally gets the genre and the joy it brings.The I'm So Excited!dance routine is the highlight of the movie.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I loved Pedro's Borken Embraces (thought Penelope deserved an Oscar nom for that) and I also really dug The Skin I Live In.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I laughed more while watching The Heat than I did at any other movie this year,but I think it was entirely down to the performances.Put any other two actresses in those lead parts and the laugh-o-meter goes down significantly.Although that bit with the cat at the end was truly,deeply hilarious.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Haven't seen THE HEAT (yet),but I'M SO EXCITED was...well,to call it "not good"is giving it way too much credit.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I saw the Heat...good stuff.I loved it and you can't stop laughing.Nice summer fun movie.If you are from Boston,this movie is a must.

July 1,2013 | Unregistered CommenterNew

The thing everyone must understand about Almodóvar is that he has no shame.He shows whatever he wants and is not afraid to go for broke when it comes to sex,nudity,violence or whatever (a lot of people were put off by La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In,I think his titles sound better in Spanish always),I really admired it for that).As for Los Amantes Pasajeros (the film we are now discussing),I saw it today in anearly full theater down here in Mexico City and pretty much everyone was laughing.It's true that it's not his most seamless film,but it's classic screwball with his sexually charged signature and once again,he goes for broke.Everything about the film is pushed too far,but because it's Almodóvar,we understand that it's his baby.It's always a treat to see Javier Cámara and Lola Dueñas in anything,and even though I didn't recognize her at first,Cecilia Roth is excellent in this.

July 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I saw I'm So Excited with my partner who was raised in Mexico.He said the subtitles were particularly badly translated for a Spanish movie.Wondering if that's creating some disconnect...

July 26,2013 | Unregistered CommenterNotkms

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