I'M SO EXCITED! Southwest Airlines: Now with 100 percent more “pizzazz”!

IN SPAIN, there are huge, state-of-the-art airports that stand completely empty. Known as "ghost airports," they were built out of a combination of optimism and corruption, in anticipation of a wave of prosperity that never arrived. Pedro Almodóvar's latest, I'm So Excited!, makes explicit reference to one such wasteful debacle as part of his lightweight commentary on social inequality—as told through a farcical and rather boring throwback to his candy-colored early work.

The film takes place almost entirely on a commercial airplane, where the staff is drinking rampantly and the occupants of a crowded coach class have been drugged into slumber. By contrast, the under-occupied business class is populated by alert, colorful characters: an infamous dominatrix, a middle-aged virgin psychic, a mysterious "security consultant," an actor, a fidgety businessman. The primary flight attendants are a trio of forcefully queer men (the title takes its name from a Pointer Sisters dance routine they perform in the aisles). Due to a technical error with the landing gear (brought to you by a fleeting opening cameo from Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz), the plane is circling the air above Toledo, looking for a place to crash. The imminent catastrophe sets the stage for a romp of personal confessions, copious drinking, a little drug consumption, and a ton of in-flight sex.

It's not as fun as it sounds. Almodóvar's film is shallow, asking nothing from its audience; as aimless as the aircraft it takes place on, it's a commitment-free diversion that is pleasant enough but dwarfed by the long shadow of Almodóvar's superior works. It also, uncomfortably, smells a bit like someone's lost touch—its brand of sexual boundary pushing is dated and occasionally insensitive (date rape meet-cute, anyone?). It may be a must for the Almodóvar completist, but its place among Almodóvar's oeuvre is "filler."