The quintessential movie spoof that spawned an entire genre of parody films, the original Airplane!
still holds up as one of the brightest comedic gems of the 1980s, not to mention of cinema itself (it often tops polls of the funniest movies ever made). The humour may be low and obvious at times, but the jokes keep coming at a rapid-fire clip and its targets--primarily the lesser lights of 1970s cinema, from disco films to star-studded disaster epics--are more than worthy for send-up. If you've seen even one of the overblown Airport
movies then you know the plot: the crew of a filled-to-capacity jetliner is wiped out and it's up to a plucky stewardess and a shell-shocked fighter pilot to land the plane. Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty are the heroes who have a history that includes a meet-cute á la Saturday Night Fever
, a surf scene right out of From Here to Eternity
, a Peace Corps trip to Africa to teach the natives the benefits of Tupperware and basketball, a war-ravaged recovery room with a G.I. who thinks he's Ethel Merman (a hilarious cameo)--and those are just the flashbacks! The jokes gleefully skirt the boundaries of bad taste (pilot Peter Graves to a juvenile cockpit visitor: "Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"), with the high (low?) point being Hagerty's intimate involvement with the blow-up automatic pilot doll, but they'll have you rolling on the floor. The film launched the careers of collaborators Jim Abrahams (Big Business
), David Zucker (Ruthless People
) and Jerry Zucker (Ghost
), as well as revitalising such B-movie actors as Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen, who built a second career on films like this. A vital part of any home film collection. --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
They are serious. And don't call them Shirley. Writer/directors Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers lampoon the Seventies fad for aeroplane-related disaster movies with this merciless spoof. Former fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) hasn't flown since the war, when an error of judgement on his part led to the decimation of his squadron. Now he has a drink problem (he keeps missing his mouth) and his girlfriend - air hostess Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) - has walked out on him. Desperate to get her back, Ted follows her onto her next flight... which goes horribly wrong when the entire cabin crew succumb to food poisoning mid-air! Aided by Elaine, the unflappable Doctor Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) and his former nemesis Rex Kramer (Robert Stack) back at air control, Ted makes a valiant effort to fly the plane to safety. But has he still got what it takes?