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Airplane!
BLU-RAY disk
Oct 2, 2011 By: Chris Bumbray
Airplane! order download
Director:
Zucker- Abrahams- Zucker

Actors:
Robert Hays
Julie Hagerty
Leslie Nielsen
Robert Stack
Lloyd Bridges

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When an entire flight crew succumbs to food poisoning, who's going to fly the plane? Enter Ted Stryker (Robert Hays), an ex-fighter pilot, who's on-board as a passenger to win back his ex-girlfriend, Elaine (Julie Hagerty) - a stewardess. Forced to man the controls, Stryker, with the help of the ground crew (Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges) now has to land a plane he doesn't know how to fly.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
AIRPLANE is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite comedies. I can't even count how many times I've indulged in its slapstick charms. Ever since first seeing it on TV on a rainy Sunday afternoon when I was eight, I've been in love with this film, and having it on Blu-ray is a joy. ZAZ's (Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker) first foray into directing (they wrote THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE), AIRPLANE kicked off a whole wave of slapstick film spoofs that continue to this day. Other than ZAZ's later THE NAKED GUN (and to a lesser extent, Jim Abrahams' HOT SHOTS), no other film has come close to bottling the magic contained in every second of AIRPLANE!

It's really one of those perfect films. Everything about it is simply inspired. A spoof of seventies disaster flicks (particularly the AIRPORT movies, which- if watched nowadays are pretty funny in their own right), the ZAZ gang actually used the script for an old fifties potboiler called ZERO HOUR (which TCM showed in an eye-opening double-bill with AIRPLANE! last year) as a jumping off point, letting their imaginations run wild from there.

Considering the amount of per-capita laughs, there's hardly a second in AIRPLANE where you won't at least be chuckling, although if you somehow have manged to get by without ever seeing it, be aware that you have to surrender to it, as AIRPLANE exists in its own insane little world.

Considering the comic icon Leslie Nielsen went on to become, it's hard to believe that before AIRPLANE, he had never done comedy. He was known as a dead-serious leading man/character actor, who, after making a splash as the square-jawed leading man of FORBIDDEN PLANET, found himself playing mostly authority figures (including the ship's captain in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE), and part in movie-of-the-week. In some ways, Jon Hamm seems like a natural to carry on where Nielsen left-off, with them both being square-jawed leading men, who probably shouldn't be funny, but just naturally are.

Other than Nielsen, three other character actors play wildly against type, with Peter Graves (“ever seen a grown man naked?”), Lloyd Bridges (“looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking/smoking/popping pills/sniffing glue”) and the always great Robert Stack (“what are your memories of Christmas Ted? To me, it was a living hell!”). All of them are genius and seem to be having a ball sending themselves up (apparently, Stack was particularly keen to spoof his own image). I also really like the two leads, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty. Hays is so naturally funny as Stryker, one wonders why he didn't go on to a bigger career, but I suppose he just got linked with the character. The awful ZAZ/Nielsen/Stack-free follow-up (AIRPLANE 2- THE SEQUEL) probably didn't help matters, but alas- he still has one iconic role under his belt that will live forever. And let me tell you, this does!

THE EXTRAS
The extras are bitterly disappointing, as this is an exact port of the “Don't Call Me Shirley Edition”. The main extra is the Long-haul version, which, every-time you see the fictional airline, TA's (get it- T & A?) logo, if you press enter you'll see retrospective interviews (Graves has a particularly funny bit about asking a young fan if he likes movies about gladiators), with both Nielsen and Graves having been interviewed shortly before passing-away. Some short deleted scenes are also branched to, although none of the scenes from the TV version are present. These segments are great, but the branching is really clunky for Blu-ray, as this really should have been a slick PiP track. We also get the ZAZ audio commentary , a trivia track , and the trailer which is incredibly awkward, with some of the funniest bits being shown WITHOUT Bernstein's music, which goes to show you how much of an essential part he played.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
AIRPLANE really is one of the best comedies ever made, and one of my all-time favourites. If you already have the “Don't Call Me Shirley” edition, you probably don't need to upgrade, but it's still nice to have on Blu-ray regardless. It's a classic.
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10:34AM on 10/03/2011
I just finished watching Airplane DVD (released around 2003 or 2004) and it's still a very very funny movie. Definitely picking this one up.
I just finished watching Airplane DVD (released around 2003 or 2004) and it's still a very very funny movie. Definitely picking this one up.
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8:51AM on 10/03/2011
I've seen this so often, yet just while reading the review, tons of moments came back to me and I was chuckling throughout. Hays did make another film I remember loving when I was younger, something called Fifty-Fifty, with Peter Weller. The two of them play mercenaries training guerilla in the jungle or something. It's not slapstick like Airplane!, but I remember it being quite funny, and watching it over when I was young.
I've seen this so often, yet just while reading the review, tons of moments came back to me and I was chuckling throughout. Hays did make another film I remember loving when I was younger, something called Fifty-Fifty, with Peter Weller. The two of them play mercenaries training guerilla in the jungle or something. It's not slapstick like Airplane!, but I remember it being quite funny, and watching it over when I was young.
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