Still craving for the love of his life, Ted Striker follows Elaine onto the flight that she is working on as a member of the cabin crew. Elaine doesn't want to be with Ted anymore, but when the crew and passengers fall ill from food poisoning, all eyes are on Ted. Written by
Unfortunately, Airplane! has been, for me, one of those comedies that I have seen so many times in the video store that its appeal has gradually worn down to almost nothing, resulting in a total absence of interest in renting it. I eventually watched it one day because I worked at the video store and could rent movies for free, and was continuing on my desperate attempt to watch every movie in the store (a goal which continues to this day, although by now I've come to realize that it's never going to happen). During my quest, by the way, I also saw the old 1970 film Airport, probably ten years after having seen parts of Airplane!, and realized that this is one of the many movies that inspired Airplane!
In general, I'm a little cautious about movies that have exclamation points in the titles, but Airplane! is without a doubt one of the funniest movies ever made. Consider, for example, those little montages that studios sometimes put together and put at the beginning of movies when they come out on videotape, honoring the great movies that the studio has made in the past. They show lots of memorable clips from their old movies (and I always write all of these titles down, determined to watch them all, and then promptly lose the list that I made) to remind you how great they are. I had a good time watching Airplane! and picking out how many scenes are in the movie that can and do go into those memorable montages.
Airplane! is made up of a series of hilarious scenes that string together a thin shoestring plot, which ironically speaks in the movie's defense. In general, movies with weak stories that are driven along by comedic stunts and pranks and whatnot tend to be pretty weak, but Airplane! is not driven by stunts to cover a weak story as much as the quality of the stunts and the slapstick comedy is so good that they overshadow everything else. It's interesting to watch someone like Robert Stack so many years ago and see that he looked and talked exactly like he did in Unsolved Mysteries so many years later, a show the seriousness of which boggles the mind, given that it's hosted by someone who did so well in a movie like this one.
My favorite thing about this movie is, obviously, the huge amount of sound bytes that comes from it, just the cleverness of the way it was written and put together. You have the main character's `drinking problem,' the airport announcers (`Listen, Betty, don't start up with your white zone sh*t again '), the stress of the people investigating the situation on the plane (`Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking/drinking/amphetamines.'), the plays on words (`There's a problem at the control tower!' `What is it?' `It's the big tower where the air traffic controllers talk to the planes.'), that one airport employee who was suspiciously bubbly and excited throughout the entire movie (while providing some of its best comedy), and then of course were the situational gags, such as Robert Stack pulling off his sunglasses to reveal another pair underneath (arguably the most famous scene in the entire film).
This is a movie where a list like this could go on and on, and I'm sure if you go to the memorable quotes page on the IMDb you'll find a gigantic list of hilarious quotes from the movie there. It is no secret that this is something of a childish and immature comedy, but it is smartly written and has so many great scenes and bits of dialogue that it's one of those rare movies that makes you want to take notes so you won't forget a lot of the lines. It is one of the earlier versions of Leslie Nielsen's spoofs, a genre in itself which went on to tremendous success with lots of great (and some not so great) spoofs to follow.
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