Pedro Almodovar Says His New Movie ‘I’m So Excited’ Is About “Being Horny”

The title of his new film, I’m So Excited, has a “double meaning,” Pedro Almodovar explained to the preview crowd at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater last night. Sure, the word “excited” has its traditional, dictionary definition of being emotionally stirred. But in addition to that, “being excited means being horny!” That bawdy spirit infuses his latest picture, which focuses on a handful of passengers and crew on a commercial airliner on the edge of disaster who don’t let their impending doom stand in the way of a good time.

The flight is headed to Mexico City, but the landing gear is busted (the explanation is provided in an early, delightful scene that almost perversely employs Antionio Banderas and Penelope Cruz for maybe four minutes of screen time, tops) and the descent will be a dangerous one. The entire coach section is conked out (they were given muscle relaxers, to ease “Economy Class Syndrome”), but the sparsely populated business section, the trio of stewards, and the cockpit crew are well aware that this could be it, and act accordingly. Copious amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed. Sex of all stripes is had. And as a distraction, the stewards decide to entertain the passengers, performing the title song as a rousing show-stopper.

Carlos Areces (a comic dynamo), one of the three actors performing the tune, was also in attendance at Lincoln Center, and recalled the grueling rehearsals for the numbers — but also that the director had them back off, because they were too good for who the characters were. “When Woody Allen made Everyone Says I Love You, that movie where everyone sings,” Almodovar explained, “Goldie Hawn sang better than the others, she almost looked like a professional singer. And Woody said, ‘No, no, no, no, try to do it worse, because it’s funny if it’s not that good.’” So the director told his actors, “No, no, my love, this is not the case… I want to see you exhausted.”

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Photo credit: Jason Bailey/Flavorwire

Areces also recalled one of his favorite physical directions from Almodovar: “You were telling me, I have to look less Angela Lansbury and more Greta Garbo.” In general, the actor says, Almodovar is a sweetheart on set — to a point. In one scene near the end, Areces and a group of stewardesses are walking and talking, and “one of them, she only had one sentence, maybe, in the whole picture? And probably she thought, ‘One sentence is very few sentences. I’m gonna say something else.’” She did so, and according to Areces, “When the take was over, Pedro came to her and told her, ‘Um, these extra words you say? Very good, very good. But… to yourself! Okay?’”

With its high-spirited sexual shenanigans, campy production numbers, and cheerful embrace of drugs and booze, I’m So Excited is certainly a lighter piece of work than recent Almodovar efforts like the psycho-sexual thriller The Skin I Live In and the melodramatic Broken Embraces. It was a conscious choice, he says, to return to the spirit (and tone) of his ‘80s pictures. “In many ways, this is really an homage to the decade of the ‘80s… those were years in Madrid where my friends and I really did a lot of drugs! Drugs were really everywhere. And I want to say right now: I never drank.”

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Photo credit: Jason Bailey/Flavorwire

But the choice of genre was no accident. “I wanted to make a comedy,” he said. “especially now that times are so difficult.” However, he takes pains to point out that his aims with a film like this are no less ambitious. “As a director, a comedy is not easier than a thriller, noir, or drama.” But it is a different atmosphere: “You enjoy every single day, every single line, that you film.”

I’m So Excited is out June 28 in limited release.