'Airplane!' Review By John M
The Best Comedy of All Time.
Airplane! Is the brain child of Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Brothers who also brought us the Hot Shots! Films along with The Naked Gun movies and Top Secret! to name a few. The film is a parody of the airplane disaster films that were all over the place in the 1970's. The story follows Ted Striker (Robert Hays) an ex-fighter pilot who became a taxi driver and is traumatized by war and is afraid of flying. His longtime girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) leaves him and heads to her job as a stewardess. Ted wants to win her back and briefly overcomes his fear, and boards the plane to win back his girlfriend. During the flight dinner is served the passengers and flight crew become sick, and Ted is looked upon to land the plane. What happens before and after is nothing but hilarity. The deadpan comedy is great. The actors deliver straight faced lines that hare hilarious. The comedy timing given by these dramatic actors is brilliant. It is simply a brilliant comedic film.
Speaking of the actors the majority of the actors in the film had never done comedy before. Leslie Nielsen (Dr. Barry Rumack) had never done a comedy before this. Before Airplane he had only done dramatic roles in such films like Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure. Yet this formally serious actor delivered his lines straight faced and brilliantly. Delivering lines like
Rumack: I won't deceive you, Mr. Striker. We're running out of time.
Ted Striker: Surely there must be something you can do.
Rumack: I'm doing everything I can... and stop calling me Shirley!
Before Airplane Nielsen was only known for his dramatic roles, but after he would only be known for his comedic roles in the Naked Gun Series and others. Then there is Peter Graves (Captain Clarence Oveur). He was a great dramatic actor and may be best known for his role in the Mission Impossible television series. He was brilliant as Captain Oveur and his lines with his flight crew Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Victor Basta (Frank Ashmore) was fantastic. Jeff Bridges father Lloyd Bridges played Steve McCroskey. Another great actor who is mainly known for his dramatic roles yet was great delivering lines like.
Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.
Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.
Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.
He delivered them all with a straight face and was and are hilarious. If I remember right I don't think Paramount Pictures wanted serious actors for the film, but Zucker and his partners wanted dramatic actors for the lead roles, because he thought the lines would be so much funnier if delivered by dramatic actors who had never done comedy before, and it worked extremely well. I don't think it had ever been done before, and would lead to other dramatic actors like Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and others to doing comedies.
Overall Airplane! is a brilliant film. It ushered in a new type of comedy into the world in a parody which I don't think it had been done before along with using dramatic actors for a comedy. The film has a great story, with an excellent cast and some of the best comedy you will ever see. Instead of wasting time with the crapfest that is comedy now a days check out Airplane! the best comedy of all time or check out Airplane! 2, Spaceballs, Caddyshack, Hot Shots! and the Naked Gun films. You won't be disappointed.