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I was checking the sales on iTunes, and saw that they had a sale on some movies for $8 each, they were the first movies by their directors. I was pleasantly surprised to see Airplane! in the list - and somehow I'd never added it to my library. So I grabbed it and watched it. And enjoyed it thoroughly.

For those who don't know, Airplane! was a parody of disaster movies, and it really launched the genre of spoof movies. In it, Ted Striker, ex-navy pilot whose final mission ended in disaster, has just broken up with his flight-attendant girlfriend Elaine. He gets on her flight to try to win her back, a flight where the fish caused food poisoning (and the flight crew all had the fish). Ted must overcome his fears and lack of confidence and land the plane.

Actually, the story is just an excuse to hang the jokes on. Many are silly, some reference older movies like Jaws, From Here to Eternity, Saturday Night Fever, and so forth. There are running gags like "The cockpit? What is it?" "It's the small space in the front where the pilots sit but that's not important now" and "Surely you jest" "I don't jest and don't call me Shirley". And they work.

Now, it was made in 1980, and some of the jokes are a product of that time. There's a lot of casual sexism, some jokes about hitting women, some blatant racism. There's also a lot of sex jokes, a little nudity, some profanity. I did wince at some of them. Others I felt a twinge of guilt as I laughed at them. (Barbara Billingsley translating Jive is a classic.) If you're very sensitive to such things, for whatever reason in your history, you should give this movie a past.

But most of the humor is just timeless insanity. And it holds up just fine over the decades.

Posted on April 14, 2015, 12:53 pm

Donald Brown

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