A flight from Madrid to Mexico is fraught with technical problems with the plane’s landing gear that force it to keep circling the air until a landing strip can be found. Inside the plane, the flight attendants have doped the economy class passengers for some reason, whilst we come to know the crew and the first class passengers. The three gay flight attendants (Javier Camara among them) attempt to provide camp cabaret entertainment for the first class passengers, whilst we also learn about the sexual orientation and affairs of the bisexual but married pilot (Antonio de la Torre) and his supposedly straight co-pilot (Hugo Silva). The former, by the way, is having an affair with Camara. Amongst the passengers we have Cecilia Roth as an infamous high-price hooker, José Luis Torrijo as a shonky banker probably about to get nabbed by the authorities, and Lola Dueñas as a dopey, virginal psychic.
On the ground Paz Vega and Blanca Suárez play the two women in the life of womanising passenger Guillermo Toledo, the former of whom is suicidal. So when Toledo calls Vega from the airplane phone and they somehow get cut off, he starts to panic that she may have jumped to her death. However, Vega has simply dropped her phone off the balcony accidentally, and it lands, you guessed it, right near Toledo’s previous girlfriend Suárez who happened to be cycling by, so when Suárez calls the last dialled number, Toledo asks her to find out if Vega is OK. Awkward much?
Spain’s cinematic bad boy turned critics’ darling Pedro Almodovar (“All About My Mother”, “Talk to Her”, “Dark Habits”) follows up his best film to date, “The Skin I Live In” with one of his worst films since his tedious debut film “Pepi, Luci, and Bom”. This flimsy excuse for a spoofy soap opera from 2013 is almost a complete waste of time. It’s as if Almodovar got drunk one weekend whilst watching “Flying High!” (or “Airplane!” depending on your location) and “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and in a drunken stupor, scribbled down some dopey ideas, turning it into a film. And what a paltry, subpar film it is, even worse than the silly and overrated “Volver”. I mean, why bring up the subplot of the mentally unstable mistress only to drop the character straight away? That was actually the only interesting part of the film, and Almodovar throws it away like it’s nothing. Make it about the mistress and the wife, and you’ve got a considerably more interesting film than what happens up on the plane. Instead, we get ridiculous scenes of passengers being allowed to hang out in the cockpit- and not just one at a time. If the director had bothered to stay in one lane (either serious or funny), perhaps that might’ve improved things, but as is, ideas like the crew drugging passengers, and the virginal middle-aged woman pretty much raping a male passenger just aren’t funny, they’re ridiculous.
It’s like Almodovar wanted to bring out his bad boy side, but not full-on, instead we get half-arsed and unfunny. Almodovar warns us at the outset that this is fantasy, but that’s his rationale for giving us stupid shit that isn’t remotely believable like the irritating psychic virgin lady. It’s a nice-looking and colourful film, and although I’m 100% hetero, I do have to admit that I rather like the Pointer Sisters (I swear that ‘I’m So Excited’ is the dirtiest song of all-time to get mainstream airplay. The song’s about the ‘Big O’, right?). The big musical number is indeed amusing, mostly to see these guys performing in such a confined space. Javier Camara, meanwhile, is much more likeable here than in his previous stint with Almodovar, the uneven “Broken Embraces”. His inability to keep his trap shut is quite funny. But he and the camp crew can’t carry a film on their own. There’s some amusing moments here and there, but not nearly enough.
If you want vintage, risqué Almodovar, watch “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” or “The Skin I Live In”. This is perhaps his most disposable film to date (including the useless cameos by Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz), and almost kind of insulting that this is all he has given us. Not good enough, not nearly good enough at all. I’m So Disappointed!