January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

Two decades ago, there was a genre of comedy that spread the world by storm. It was wacky and it was fun and it took a nostalgic touch and put a comic spin on it. It was the parody film and it was the genre Mel Brooks was the master at throughout the seventies. In the eighties, another breed of parody film came from three of the founders of the Kentucky Fried Theatre, who’s film Kentucky Fried Movie was a surprise hit amongst moviegoers at the tail end of the seventies. At the beginning of the new decade, an idea they had for many years became a reality, it became another surprise hit, it became Airplane!

Ted (Robert Hays) and Elaine (Julie Hagerty) are in the midst of ending their relationship. He promises her that things will be different, but Elaine has heard it all before and can’t deal with it anymore and wants to go on with her life as a stewardess. Ted wants to give the relationship and would do anything to patch it up, including surprising her on her next flight unaware that on this particular flight, a small problem will affect the passengers and crew and their only hope for survival is the very person with flight experience that isn’t part of the crew. The person who didn’t fall for the small problem but has a drinking problem of his own. The person is Ted and thus continues the wacky flight of Trans American Airlines.

After more than twenty years after it’s release, this viewer expected the laughs to come once in a while and with memories that it was good at the time but not sure if I could say the same now. With that being said, I can honestly say that it is still a funny movie and that many of the puns in this movie still make me howl a little more than some of the recent fare that passes for comedy. The fun comes quick and very spontaneously making fun of the Airport/Disaster movies of the seventies. There are at least five scenes in this movie that make me laugh more than ever. It’s interesting that this film was loosely based on an older movie with the same idea but a serious movie.

The film certainly paved the way for more spoofery to come, mostly from the same guys who made this movie. Today is no time for the parody film to come back, but it is amusing to look back and see that it was funny, it still is funny and maybe sometime in the future (not too near) filmmaking can go back to a fresh kind of spoofery the way Airplane did in the eighties.

Video: How does it look?

Airplane! gets the anamorphic treatment on this DVD in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This film was made on a small budget and the stock of the film shows it wasn’t too low but it wasn’t too high quality either. The color doesn’t pop and the print has a bit of that eighties haze on it. However, it does come a bit to life during the Ted and Elaine meeting on the dance floor portion of the film but even after that the palette is flat and doesn’t strike too sharply and certain scenes appear a lot more grainier than others. Despite those limitations, the print is decent and not too scratchy and it makes for a okay transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

Where the print had it’s flaws and it showed, the remixed audio track showed a slight improvement over the print. The majority of the track comes from the center and the surround channels work around the score and the last quarter of the movie. The sound quality is sharp and doesn’t have an obvious muteness that most movies from that time carry without the proper remixing. It’s certainly not up to today’s standards of clarity but it manages to spread around evenly to make for a nice track. This disc also has a French Mono track along with English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unlike the more recent Paramount titles that are virtually extra free, Airplane! has two key extras. The first is a commentary by writer-directors David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and producer Jon Davison. The track is a bit gappy and it seems that they feel they don’t have much to add, but there are many times when it becomes comically informative and say some key battles with the Paramount brass as well as other studio brass and about casting curiosities and screen tests. (Now if only those tests would’ve been included on here!!) Despite it’s inconsistancy, it is a fun informative listen from all four participants.

Also is the theatrical trailer, which I remember from way back when my local movie channel used to put on trailers in between movies to showcase the monthly coming attractions and it brought back a few memories and it is exactly how I remember it.

Overall, Airplane is a classic spoof comedy that still has some laughs and made for a decent DVD for any collection.

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