7.7/10
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505 user 132 critic

Airplane! (1980)

PG | | Comedy | 2 July 1980 (USA)
Trailer
3:30 | Trailer
A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick.

Writers:

Jim Abrahams (written for the screen by), David Zucker (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
217 ( 67)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ... Roger Murdock (as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar)
Lloyd Bridges ... Steve McCroskey
Peter Graves ... Captain Clarence Oveur
Julie Hagerty ... Elaine Dickinson
Robert Hays ... Ted Striker
Leslie Nielsen ... Dr. Rumack
Lorna Patterson ... Randy
Robert Stack ... Captain Rex Kramer
Stephen Stucker Stephen Stucker ... Johnny Henshaw-Jacobs
Otto ... Otto
Jim Abrahams ... Religious Zealot #6
Frank Ashmore ... Victor Basta
Jonathan Banks ... Gunderson
Craig Berenson Craig Berenson ... Paul Carey
Barbara Billingsley ... Jive Lady
Learn more

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Storyline

Drowning his sorrows after that botched mission during WWII, the traumatised former fighter pilot with a fear of flying, Ted Striker, still hasn't got over his old flame and flight attendant, Elaine Dickinson. Determined to win her back, Ted boards a domestic flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, only to come face-to-face with a severe case of in-flight food poisoning that is threatening everyone's lives. Now, with most of the passengers and the entire cockpit crew down with the food-borne illness, Striker has no other choice but to confront his inner demons and take over the control of the ungovernable aircraft with the help of a gruff air-traffic controller and his former commander. Can Ted land the plane and save them all? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

spoof | airplane | cockpit | plane | pilot | See All (298) »

Taglines:

I'm Brian...fly me. [double bill with "Monty Python's Life of Brian"] See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Graves only agreed to do the movie because his wife loved the script. He didn't understand why they wanted him for the role and instead suggested they cast some funny people. See more »

Goofs

According to the dialogue, the airplane is supposed to land on runway 9 (niner), but the number 30 is clearly visible on the runway's threshold as the plane lands. There is no runway 30 at Chicago O'Hare airport. See more »

Quotes

Ted Striker: My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow. We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 1800 hours. We're coming in from the north, below their radar.
Elaine Dickinson: When will you be back?
Ted Striker: I can't tell you that. It's classified.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In case of tornado ... Southwest corner of basement See more »

Alternate Versions

In the TV version shown on UPN, Chuck Connors appears briefly as "The Sarge", the same character he plays in Airplane II: The Sequel. See more »

Connections

Featured in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme From Jaws
Written by John Williams
See more »

User Reviews

 
Arguably one of the funniest films ever made
6 June 2004 | by MovieAddict2016See all my reviews

"Airplane!" is, was and always shall be the master of spoof movies. It is single-handedly responsible for literally inventing a sub-genre of comedy. It is the ultimate Silly Movie. A satire of the disaster movies of the 1970s, particularly the "Airport" series, nothing makes sense and it doesn't need to. There's no real plot. Just laughs - and plenty of 'em.

It was helmed by the ZAZ trio (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker), whose dedication to making the audience laugh is surprisingly adamant. Recent spoofs may have left a bad aftertaste in your mouth, but it seems to be a universal agreement: "Airplane" is the funniest film of its genre ever made. (Closely followed by "The Naked Gun" - also penned by the ZAZ trio - perhaps.)

The plot: Ted Striker (Robert Hays) is a war veteran-turned-cab-driver who decides to chase after his girlfriend, an airline stewardess named Elaine (Julie Hagerty), who has dumped him in order to pursue a new life. Right before her plane takes off, Ted climbs aboard, hitching a ride in order to woo her back into a relationship again.

When the aircraft is in midflight, both pilots become very ill after eating their meals. Eventually many passengers begin to show symptoms of a rare disease, apparently transmitted by the food. Onboard, Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) takes care of the sick passengers as Ted - an ex-fighter pilot from the war - decides to try and land the plane. If he messes up they will all die, and in a particularly funny scene, the pressure becomes so unbearable that he begins to literally sweat gallons in the cockpit.

That is essentially all the film is about, but most of its duration is spent cracking jokes. Spoof films are entirely different from other movies because normally we would criticize a film if it considered its plot to be the least important element. Not so here. This is a truly brainless piece of celluloid - a movie that doesn't try to be anything that it isn't. From the opening credits - that cleverly spoof "JAWS" - to the closing we realize that this is an altogether unique film going experience.

The movie's biggest laughs come through unexpected flashbacks, such as when Ted remembers where he first met Elaine in a crummy bar ("...it was worse than Detroit..."), and begins to disco-dance a la John Travolta from "Saturday Night Fever" (complete with Bee Gees soundtrack blaring in the background and the famous Travolta pose). Then, later, we are taken back to when Ted was hospitalized after the war, and finds out that he was responsible for the death of six men. "Seven, actually," he is informed, which adds to the pain of the moment for him.

Though this movie is very funny, many jokes misfire. If you're not pop culture savvy and you don't remember Mrs. Cleaver from TV's "Leave it to Beaver", the humor is going to go over your head. But unlike many comedies, "Airplane!" offers something unique for each person. I know that as a film lover, I picked up on many movie in-jokes that some people might not recognize. And then there were the gags that I first missed but picked up after a second viewing, or when someone explained them to me, or both. And I'm sure there are many yet that I'm not aware of. It seems that every time I watch it, there's something else to laugh at that I missed previously.

"Airplane!" not only was a huge success in 1980 (the year of its release), spinning off a horde of imitators and one sequel - it was also responsible for crowning Leslie Nielsen "The King of Spoof." Prior to "Airplane!" Nielsen had been a veteran of more serious productions, stemming back to playing cowboys on "The Mickey Mouse Club" and other embarrassing attempts at acting. However, Nielsen later claimed that he had always wanted to do a comedy, even when he first started acting seriously with projects such as the classic "Forbidden Planet" (one of the best science-fiction films ever made). He later reunited with the ZAZ trio for "The Naked Gun" trilogy, appeared in similar spoof films over the years such as "Wrongfully Accused" and "Scary Movie 3," and had his iconic comedy shtick ripped off by many screen veterans - most noticeably by George Gaynes in the unbearable "Police Academy" (1984).

When it comes down to a single evaluation, "Airplane" is simply the best spoof film ever made. It's like a MAD Magazine parody come to life. There are the occasional misfires, but unlike many other spoof film imitators, this one contains far more hits. The deadpan acting is genius and everything else fits into place, resulting in what may arguably be one of the absolute funniest films ever conceived and put on the big screen. And if you decide to watch the movie, don't blink - you might miss a gag or two. The "Police Academies" will come and go but "Airplane!" will never be forgotten.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kentucky Fried Airplane See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$83,453,539

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$83,453,539
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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