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Saturday, November 08, 2008


****½ Airplane! Comedy.

Directed by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker.
Starring: Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Barbara Billingsley, Maureen McGovern, Ethel Merman...

We rented this from Netflix. I'm thinking we should probably just buy it--it's definitely worth a place in our movie library.

Airplane! is, if I'm not mistaken, the first--and the best--of the spoof movies. It spoofs all those disaster movies from the 70s, and a lot of other things besides.

The plot--the pilot (Peter Graves), co-pilot (Kareem Abdul-Jabar), navigator(Frank Ashmore), and several of the passengers of an airliner are stricken with food poisoning, and it's up to ex-fighter-pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) to land the plane safely, despite his war-related trauma. He's also recently been dumped by his girlfriend, stewardess Elaine (Julie Hagerty).

Nearly every single line is a joke or a pun or a reference to another movie--sometimes all three. You can watch this over and over and still miss some of them. Although quite a few of the cameos aren't obvious to the under-40 crowd (we had to explain to Camden that Kareem Abdul-Jabar really was the famous basketball player the little boy passenger was saying he was, and that the older lady who "spoke jive" played the mom on Leave It To Beaver.), and I didn't even realize some of them until I was looking up the details for this review (the singing nun was singer Maureen McGovern, and the guy checking the oil was Jimmy Walker), there were still more that were funny and recognizable even now.

What sets this apart from its lame imitators is that it's not just a string of jokes--it's all within the framework of an actual plot, and there's continuity between the scenes, helped along by some running gags, like "looks like it's a bad week to stop smoking/drinking/doing amphetamines/sniffing glue" and "but that's not important right now."

Some of the most classic scenes are in the preview--like the auto-pilot, the woman who speaks jive, and everybody lining up to slap the hysterical woman.

Airplane! is a heck of a lot of fun, whether you ever watched any of those 70s disaster movies or not. I highly recommend it.

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I have seen this movie a long time ago and love it then. It's been an awful long times since. I might want to Netflix this too, to refresh my memory of the movie...

By the way, the scene where everyone line up to take turn to slap the hysterical woman --- that was the same scene I always use, when I joked about how I think members of our group would want to take turn and slap me with their weapons LOL ..ever notice it in my posts? ;)
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