LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s latest film “I‘m So Excited!” is a raunchy screwball comedy that the Oscar-winning director said marks a return to his roots as a satirist even as it delivers biting commentary on modern-day Spain.
The Spanish-language movie, which opens the Los Angeles Film Festival on Thursday and will be on limited release in U.S. cinemas on June 28, follows passengers on a flight from Spain to Mexico City after their plane experiences a serious malfunction.
Almodovar, 63, returns to his comedy past after exploring more dramatic themes over the past decade, including 2002’s “Talk To Her” - which won him a best original screenplay Oscar - and 2011’s “The Skin I Live In.”
“During the ‘80s, I made a lot of comedies, so this was like returning to my roots,” Almodovar told Reuters. “I think I just needed to make something lighter.”
In the film, the pilots and flamboyantly gay flight attendants attempt to distract the passengers by providing them with alcohol and drugs, which leads to sex and dancing to the 1982 Pointer Sisters’ hit song “I‘m So Excited.”
The film stars several actors who previously worked with Almodovar, including Javier Camara, Lola Duenas, Cecilia Roth and Blanca Suarez. Spanish Hollywood stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz also make appearances.
Almodovar said he unconsciously channeled the vision of sexually explicit American filmmaker John Waters, who directed 1988’s “Hairspray” and 2004’s “A Dirty Shame.” He referred to him as “one of my best American friends.”
With Waters in mind, Almodovar said the film has elements that may lead viewers to describe it as “dirty,” as the passengers “do everything that is forbidden to do on a plane.”
“In Spain, being excited means being horny,” the director said. “In the second part of the movie, this is the state of the passengers.”
Almodovar, who is gay, grew up during the repressive rule of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. After the caudillo’s death in 1975, democracy suddenly brought a “big explosion of freedom,” he said.
His debut film, 1980’s “Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom” is described as having captured the newfound cultural and sexual freedom of that time.
While “I‘m So Excited!” was intended to play for laughs, Almodovar said it is also a metaphor for Spain that has been hit by a two-year recession that has left about a quarter of its workforce jobless.
The director said the film reflects the “political corruption and financial embezzlement” that has ensnared the country, and its banking crisis that required a $54 billion (41 billion euro) European Union-backed bailout last year.
“What is metaphorical (in this movie) is that journey which consists in turning around in circles without knowing where they are going to land,” Almodovar said. “They need an emergency landing but don’t know exactly who will be commanding (it).”
He added, “There is a lot of fear and uncertainly - two words that define my feeling as a Spanish citizen.”
“I‘m So Excited!” is distributed in the United States by Sony Corp’s Sony Pictures Classics.
Reporting By Zorianna Kit; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy, Eric Kelsey and Xavier Briand