This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-09-03.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> February 1998 >> Airplane!
When satire works, it really works. The team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker is one of my all-time favorites, and this is, in many ways, one of their definitive movies. These guys throw a joke on screen so often that it's taken me years to notice some of them. They don't wait too long for you to get it, though. You've gotta be on your toes! Be especially on the lookout for the farther off-color jokes. Most of them are delivered way below radar.
The acting is rock-solid even though the dialogue is outrageously hilarious. The spoof works because everyone is so damn serious. Leslie Nielsen and Robert Stack do nothing to tarnish their reputations. Nielsen doesn't use any of his Frank Drebin reactions yet, and Stack is still years away from his cavity-search obsessed role in Beavis and Butt-head. Even Elmer Bernstein's score is serious, even though it switches gears between drama and romance fast enough to make a transmission beg for mercy.
Airplane! finds Robert Hays as Ted Striker and Julie Hagerty as Elaine Dickinson in the midst of a breakup. In a desperate attempt to get her back, Striker boards the plane Dickinson is stewardessing (I can use that term because this movie was made before "flight attendant" became the preferred term). The plane is in for some very interesting trouble once it's off the ground. There's really nothing funny about the plot: an ex-pilot haunted by his wartime record has to land a pilot-less plane. The humor is all in the script and in the execution.