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Movie Review: Airplane

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Winner of an astounding, yet not unprecedented zero Academy Awards, Airplane is arguably one of the funniest movies ever made. Long before The Naked Gun, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker teamed up to write this outrageous comedy hit which spoofs the airline disaster movies prevalent throughout the 1970s. Starring a diverse cast with a wide range of experience from Hollywood, Broadway, and the NBA, Airplane follows the exploits of a number of characters, including Ted Striker (Robert Hays), Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and Otto The Inflatable Pilot (as himself), all of whom will keep you laughing in the aisles for one hour plus.

When ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker is released from the hospital following the mental strain of his war experience, he decides to seek out and reconnect with the love of his life, Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), a woman who broke off their relationship due to Striker’s various problems (among which is a “drinking problem,” that is, Striker’s inability to pour liquid into his mouth). Now an airline stewardess, Elaine is emphatic in her assertion that she will never get back together with Ted. Unwilling to take no for an answer, and certain he can prove he’s overcome the problems of his past, Ted follows Elaine on her flight.

All goes well until several passengers get sick. Victims of spoiled food, almost everyone on the plane stands on the brink of death as the pilots themselves pass out. One of the few who is not ill, Ted is called upon to land the plane in their absence. But his haunting war memories and fear of flying foreshadow a great disaster. With the help of Elaine, Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen), and Otto The Inflatable Pilot, Ted faces his fears and attempts to bring the plane in for a safe landing. Helping him from the ground are Steven McCrosky (Lloyd Bridges) and Capt. Rex Kramer (Robert Stack), a military man intimately familiar with the abilities of Ted Striker.

Interspersed throughout Airplane are an endless number of one-liners, oddities, wordplay dialogue, and crazy antics. This is one movie you might have to watch several times before you catch every great line, because the humor saturates every scene. You won’t find a single dull moment in Airplane. In fact, you might even learn a few disco moves from Ted and Elaine, not to mention Capt. Oveur and his co-pilot Roger!

With a truly impressive cast for a spoof, cult comedy classic (Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, and Leslie Nielsen among others), Airplane will forever remain among the hallowed elite of the best comedy films ever produced. Unlike most modern-era comedies, which tend to reflect many of the trends and fads of the day, Airplane seems to gain new altitude with each generation to which it’s introduced. Like Johnny Carson, its wit and humor transcends every level of American life, making for an enjoyable and laughable movie watching experience. As a result, Airplane is a no-brainer in the category of must-see films. If you haven’t seen it (hard to believe), then I highly recommend renting it immediately.

Britt’s Rating: 9.7/10

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About Britt Gillette

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Surely, you can’t be serious?

    Of course not, Britt! How can you be serious when writing about this classic? I laugh EVERY time I watch it and always find something new to laugh at.

    Oh, and please don’t call me “Shirley.”

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Jerry Zucker, co-writer and co-director of Airplane, probably wouldn’t appreciate being left out.