Friday, January 23, 2015

Airplane! (1980)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’ve often said that comedy could get away with a little more because we accept the fact that we’re watching the movie for the jokes and not the plot. I have to admit that Airplane! does pretty well with its plot. The movie starts with Ted Striker following Elaine into an airport. The two of them used to be together, but Elaine left Ted; now Ted wants her back. Ted was a pilot during The War. He led many brave men into a situation where few returned and he holds himself responsible. That, ultimately, let to their breakup. It also explains why he’s never been able to get on a plane since. Somehow, he manages to get himself onto Elaine’s plane. (She’s a flight attendant.) Nothing’s ever that simple, though. The pilot, copilot, navigator and many of the passengers come down with food poisoning. It’s up to Ted and Elaine to land the plane.

The movie is mostly jokes. For instance, before boarding the plane, the pilot gets a message from the Mayo Clinic. The doctor on the other end of the line has many jars of mayonnaise behind him. He then gets a call from someone named Mr. Hamm. The pilot says, “Ok. Give me Hamm on 5. Hold the Mayo.”

There’s also Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who plays the copilot, Roger. Whenever anyone ends by saying roger, he thinks they’re talking to him. When a child passenger gets to see the cockpit, he instantly recognizes the copilot, insisting that he’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The child finally gets him to admit it by saying how his father thinks that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t that good of a player.

Some of the jokes are dated. One of the running gags in the movie is all of the people handing out religious flyers. You really don’t see that as much anymore. The opening credits mock Jaws, which probably won’t have the same significance to a lot of younger audiences. It was also never stated which war Ted fought in, although there are some flashback scenes involving him and Elaine. One involves battling girl scouts and dancing to the Bee Gees.

It’s a funny movie. The only weak part in the acting was Abdul-Jabbar; However, I think his part was great. It pokes fun at characters that don’t recognize famous people that happen to be playing other characters. The movie has some vulgarity in it and we do get to see breasts a few times. I think it would be a good idea to wait before showing this movie to the kids. Even after almost 25 years, it’s still a funny movie. 

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