Backstory: Widely considered to be one of the greatest comedies of all time, Airplane! is a 1980 parody of disaster movies written and directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker.
Storystory: Former fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) must overcome his pathological fear of flying to ensure that a passenger plane lands safely.
What I Liked: Not much.
What I Didn’t Like: A lot of Airplane!’s funniest and most quotable jokes have been firmly ingrained in popular culture for decades. I’ve seen clips, memes and references all over the place, which, unfortunately, meant that seeing the actual movie wasn’t a lot of fun. It’s like if the trailer gave away all the best jokes, but ten times worse. It didn’t help that some of the humor has actually aged terribly (Oveur (Peter Graves) cracking gay jokes while also pulling a kid close to him nearly made me cringe out of my skin). For obvious reasons, the bad/dated jokes don’t get referenced as much, so they were the ones that were actually new to me. Airplane! was a victim of circumstance – the deck was stacked against it in every possible way.
To be clear, I don’t think it’s a bad movie. It’s just that my personal viewing experience was dreadful and I think years of cultural osmosis have basically made it impossible for me to appreciate Airplane! as much as it probably deserves.
The Little Things: “Would you like anything to read? “Do you have something light?” “How about this leaflet – famous Jewish sports legends?” – that got the biggest laugh out of me.